Pickering to share casino revenues with Durham to support of social housing – a first in Ontario

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Published March 24, 2023 at 10:33 am

Elaine Baxter-Trahair, (CAO, Durham), John Henry (Durham Chair), Kevin Ashe (Pickering Mayor) and Marisa Carpino (Pickering CAO) at the PIckering Casino Resort

The City of Pickering has officially signed on the dotted line to share some of its casino gaming revenue with the Region of Durham, with Durham expected to use that money for social housing projects.

The idea to share a portion of its hosting revenue with the upper tier municipality has been bubbling since Great Canadian Gaming announced they were going to build a casino on the Durham Live site in Pickering, near the border with Ajax, in 2018.

“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,” said Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe at the signing ceremony. “Together, we can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need and create a brighter future for residents across our region.”

Since Pickering Casino Resort opened its doors in July 2021 the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has awarded more than $20.2 million in non-tax gaming revenue for hosting rights.

The new deal, retroactive to January 1, will see Pickering retain the first $10 million in revenues from OLG and then split the balance evenly with Durham Region, with a cap of $8 million per year.

Based on estimates of $16 million in casino payments each year, Durham Region stands to pocket $3 million annually under the arrangement.

Durham Chair John Henry called the deal an “exciting partnership” and expects it to be renewed at the end of the contract in 2026. “This new opportunity will provide exceptional value to Durham taxpayers. It’s a partnership designed to offer responsive, effective, and fiscally sustainable service delivery; focused on the delivery of exceptional quality services and value.”

As the upper tier municipality, Durham Region is responsible for providing social housing and the City of Pickering has publicly proposed that a portion of the revenues shared with the Region be directed to social Housing and other social programs. Under the memorandum of understanding Durham is not legally required to do so, however.

Pickering made an official resolution to share its casino revenues five years ago, upon full build-out of the Pickering Casino Resort. That happened earlier this year with the opening of a 275-room hotel and 2,500-seat arena, setting the stage for Thursday’s announcement.

Pickering is the only casino host in Ontario to share its revenues this way.

Pickering receives 5.25 per cent of the first $65 million in slot revenue, three per cent of slot revenue between $65 million and $200 million, 2.5 per cent of slot revenue between $200 million and $500 million and .5 per cent over $500 million.

The City is also awarded four per cent of live table revenue and four per cent of sportsbook revenue.

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