Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.
According to reports, the city of Pickering has agreed to share a portion of its Ontario casino revenues with the Region of Durham.
Under the current revenue breakdown for the casino, Pickering receives 5.25% of the first $65 million in slot earnings, 3% of slot proceeds between $65 million and $200 million, 2.5% of revenue between $200 million and $500 million, and 0.5% of slot yields over $500 million. The city also receives 4% of live table revenue and 4% of sportsbook revenue.
The agreement, which was signed on March 24th, is aimed at providing funding for social housing projects in Durham. The talks between the two municipalities began in 2018 when Great Canadian Entertainment announced its plans to build a new casino near the Ajax border. At the signing ceremony, Pickering mayor Kevin Ashe stated that the revenue-sharing deal would help build a stronger, more equitable community for all.
It has been revealed that the agreement, which will be retroactive to January 1, 2023, allows Pickering to keep the first $10 million in OLG revenue. After that, the two sides will split future OLG revenues evenly, with a cap of $8 million annually going to Durham. Currently, Pickering receives around $16 million in casino revenue each year, so Durham can expect to receive approximately $3 million annually. Durham chair John Henry has hailed the deal as an “exciting partnership” that will provide exceptional value to Durham taxpayers.
Pickering publicly proposed that a portion of the casino revenue directed to Durham go towards social housing and other initiatives. However, under the memorandum of understanding, Durham is not legally required to fulfill the recommendation. As the upper-tier municipality, Durham is responsible for implementing any agreed-upon projects with Pickering.
It is worth mentioning that revenue-sharing was always part of Pickering’s plan. The city committed to sharing its casino revenues five years ago, upon full build-out of the Pickering Casino Resort. With the launch of a 275-room hotel and 2,500-seat arena, officials were finally able to make that happen this year. Pickering is now the only host gaming community in Ontario to share its revenues in this way. In October 2021, Pickering received its first payment from the OLG under the Municipality Contribution Agreement, amounting to $2,439,575.