Municipal Payments Show Ontario Casinos On Pace For Record Year

Written By Dave Briggs on July 22, 2022
The $130 million, state-of-the-art, 5,000-seat OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino will have its grand opening soon in Niagara.

It could be a record-breaking year for Ontario casino revenue according to one barometer of the health of the industry. There was a sizeable increase in the revenue-sharing figures for municipalities with land-based casinos in the first quarter of fiscal 2022-23.

On Wednesday, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said the province’s 28 host communities collectively received over $43 million in the quarter that ended June 30. If revenue remains at or exceeds that pace through the remaining quarters, host municipalities will receive a record $172 million when the fiscal year ends on March 31, 2023.

That would exceed the previous best of $161 million municipalitiesreceived in fiscal 2019-20 before the COVID-19 pandemic led to multiple casino closures that sharply drove down both total revenue.

Total payments to municipalities were:

  • Fiscal 2016-17 — $146.3 million
  • 2017-18 — $160.8 million
  • 2018-19 — $160.8 million
  • 2019-20 — $161 million
  • 2020-21 — $38 million
  • 2021-22 — $82.9 million
  • Projected 2022-23 — $172 million

While we continue to wait for online revenue reports…

It’s at least something to go on to measure the health of the province’s gambling industry.

We continue to wait for the much-promised Ontario online casino and sports betting revenue figures to be released. The province’s online gaming market launched on April 4.

Land-based casinos rebounding sharply from pandemic

It’s important to note that revenue-sharing agreements with Ontario municipalities only apply to land-based casinos. Ontario’s online casinos and sportsbooks are taxed and regulated by the province, with the revenue going into the government’s general coffers.

Whether Ontario bricks-and-mortar casino revenue ends up exceeding the previous best year or not, first-quarter municipal revenue-sharing figures indicate huge growth over the previous year.

The municipalities’ collective share of more than $43 million is already more than halfway to the total of nearly $83 million it received in all of fiscal 2021-22. This year’s first-quarter total already exceeds the $38 million municipalities received for all of 2020-21.

COVID-19 restrictions closed the province’s casinos from March-September 2020 and December 2020 to February 2021 (about 10 months). That’s why municipalities received only $38 million in fiscal 2020-21.

Casinos closed for four months from April 2021 to July in fiscal 2021-22. They also closed for about a month between January and February of 2022.

Important revenue stream for municipalities

In a press release announcing the first-quarter municipal revenue, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy said:

“OLG’s land-based casinos are once again providing an important stream of revenue to gaming host communities through Municipality Contribution Agreements. Municipalities rely on this funding to maintain essential programs and services, and to help improve the lives of people across Ontario.”

Since 1994, host communities have received more than $1.86 billion in non-tax gaming revenue.

Over the past seven years, service providers have invested an estimated $1.8 billion in private sector capital development across the province.  Since 2017, these investments have led to the development and opening of six new casinos. Two more are currently under construction. In addition, a number of existing casinos have been enhanced and/or expanded.

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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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