Lisa Cheban | 25 July, 2023 10:11 | Last update on: 25 July, 2023 10:11
Last month, the Great Canadian Casino Resort in Toronto opened its doors for business, becoming Canada’s largest casino resort. The $1 billion entertainment venue sits on a 328,000-square-foot space, sparking excitement when the company’s officials and community leaders finally cut the launching tape.
But not everyone is happy about the launch of this epic venue. Ontario’s First Nation community has openly expressed their displeasure with the venue, at least for business purposes. Nation believes it has been dealt an unfair hand that may jeopardize its finances. There are worries that if the newest Ontario casino succeeds, some of the country’s entertainment businesses will be in danger.
In 2016, tribe leaders and the Ontario government signed a casino revenue-sharing formula agreement. The agreement between MSIFN (Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation) and the government would ensure the Great Blue Heron Casino runs similarly to other government casinos in the greater Toronto area.
However, First Nation alleges that the government broke the agreement by allowing three new casinos to open. The Ontario government denies that it violated the agreement. The OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) reaffirmed its dedication to continuing consultations with its partners, including indigenous communities, about constructing the Great Canadian Casino Resort.
The tribe recently voiced concerns about the alliance between Great Canadian Entertainment and Live Nation Canada. They claim the deal will substantially promote the brand-new Woodbine casino. The MSIFN believes this alliance may undermine business at the Great Blue Heron Casino and limit the tribe’s ability to offer services to its people.
That’s not all; Nation is also displeased that it was only informed of the arrangement just before it was announced, meaning the company was not part of the decision-making process. They claim that this agreement is another proof of decisions made without consideration or respect for Ontario’s indigenous partners and local communities.
The MSIFN Chief Kelly LaRocca stated that to provide its people with basic amenities, like safe and clean drinking water, the Great Blue Heron Casino has to stay profitable. As a result, MSIFN and Ontario’s government will soon start mediation. LaRocca has threatened to sue the government if her neighbourhood is dissatisfied with the outcome of the consultation process.
Responding to LaRocca, Chuck Keeling, executive VP of stakeholder engagement, community, and social responsibility at the Great Canadian Entertainment, told a local podcast that the company appreciates and respects Chief LaRocca’s concerns. However, he underscored that the MSIFN benefits from the Great Blue Heron Casino and Hotel, which Great Canadian operates.
Keeling added: “Moreover, we have invested tens of millions of dollars building the hotel that is now there that we opened in the middle of COVID. We’ve expanded and renovated the gaming floor at Great Blue Heron. It is one of four locations of our 12 in the province where we have opened a sportsbook. And we’re in the midst of developing its own entertainment venue that we are targeting to open in the early fall.”