The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, which owns the Great Blue Heron Casino, think that the Ontario government led by Doug Ford breached their revenue-sharing agreement by allowing the Great Canadian Casino Resort to open its doors in Toronto. In front of CTV National News, Chief Kelly LaRocca said that the gambling venue is essential for the community’s economy. She added that the First Nation has clean drinking water, healthcare services, and education thanks to the casino.
But the Ontario government has recently approved multiple new casinos. According to LaRocca, this violates the revenue-sharing agreement between the First Nation and the province. Under the terms of their deal, The Great Blue Heron will be “commercially viable”. The gambling venue is owned by the First Nation and operated by Great Canadian Entertainment (GCE) and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).
The revenue-sharing deal between the First Nation and the Ontario government was signed seven years ago. Since then, Ontario officials have approved several casinos, including the one in Pickering. A few days ago, the opening of the Great Canadian Casino Resort in Toronto made the headlines. The gambling facility occupies 33 acres and is one of the largest private casinos in the country.
The Great Canadian Casino Resort features 3,800 parking lots, a 400-room hotel, 10 restaurants, and a 5,000-seat entertainment concert venue. The resort also has an outstanding casino, which hosts 145 gaming tables and 4,800 slot machines.
The First Nation May Take Legal Action against the Ontario Government
The recent opening of the Great Canadian Casino Resort has ruffled the feathers of the First Nation. In an interview with CTV National News, LaRocca said that the Ontario government did not keep its word to the Indigenous people, who own the Great Blue Heron Casino. She added that the massive casino expansion threatens their existence. The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation is to enter mediation with the province. LaRocca said that the Indigenous people would take legal action against the government if needed.
Chuck Keeling, the vice president of GCE, said that the way the First Nation described the situation was not accurate. Keeling explained that the GCE invested tens of millions in the gambling venue, demonstrating its commitment to supporting the Great Blue Heron Casino. In a statement to CTV News, the OLG announced that it was constantly in discussions with OLG’s partners, including the First Nation, during the expansion process of the Woodbine Casino venue.
LaRocca argued that the new casino in Toronto is a big competitor to the First Nation’s casino, which violates their revenue-sharing agreement with the province. She added that under their agreement with the Ontario government, no casinos would be allowed around the Great Blue Heron, but the opening of the gambling venue in Pickering violated that clause.
Scott Blodgett, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, explained that the agreement does not include a clause under which no new land-based casinos can open in the area. Blodgett also noted that the Ontario government’s revenue-sharing agreement with the First Nation did not include the Great Blue Heron Casino.