The city of Pickering is ready to share a percentage of its Ontario casino revenues with the Region of Durham.
On March 24, the two municipalities agreed to a deal that is expected to help fund social housing projects in Durham.
Talks of a potential pact started back in 2018, when Great Canadian Entertainment announced plans to build a new casino on the Durham Live Site in Pickering, near the Ajax border.
At the signing ceremony, Pickering mayor Kevin Ashe spoke about the good this new arrangement will bring.
“We are taking a proactive step towards building a stronger, more equitable community for all, by sharing our casino gaming revenues with the Region of Durham.
“Together, we can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need and create a brighter future for residents across our region.”
How the Ontario casino revenue sharing deal will work
Retroactive to January 1, 2023, the agreement states that Pickering will retain the first $10 million in OLG revenue. Once hit, the two sides will split future OLG revenues evenly. However, there is a cap in place, limiting the number of funds going to Durham to $8 million annually.
Currently, Pickering receives approximately $16 million in casino revenue per annum, meaning Durham can expect roughly $3 million annually.
Durham chair John Henry called the deal an “exciting partnership” and expects a renewal after the contract expires in 2026.
“This new opportunity will provide exceptional value to Durham taxpayers,” Henry said. “It’s a partnership designed to offer responsive, effective and fiscally sustainable service delivery; focused on the delivery of exceptional quality services and value.”
In this situation, Durham is the upper-tier municipality, meaning it is responsible for implementing any agreed upon projects with Pickering.
As a result, the city of 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, there is no legal requirement for Durham to fulfill the recommendation.
Revenue sharing was always in the cards for Pickering
Nearly five years ago, the City of Pickering made a commitment to share its casino revenues upon full build-out of the Pickering Casino Resort. Finally, officials were able to make that happen this year, with the launch of a 275-room hotel and 2,500-seat arena. In doing so, the city of 100,000 became the only host gaming community in Ontario to share its revenues this way.
In October 2021, Pickering received its first Municipality Contribution Agreement payment from the OLG, amounting to $2,439,575.
As per 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.
- 0.5% of slot yields over $500 million.
The city also receives 4% of live table revenue and 4% of sportsbook revenue.
Bryan Adams to open new Pickering Casino arena
In other Pickering casino news, Canadian rock legend Bryan Adams will officially open The Arena at the casino with a concert on April 26.
The 2,500-seat entertainment facility is part of the $500 million Pickering Casino Resort.