The lucrative nature of the casino industry in Canada has led to plenty of long and bitter feuds between towns, cities, provinces, and gaming providers. All of them are keen to get a slice of the action, and many of them have been locked in a battle to secure them for a long time. In fact, there have been countless developments and planned casino projects across the country in the last year or so.
Back in September, the nation got wind of a planned C$57 million casino development project from Gateway Casinos. And this is just one of a number of different projects that have happened throughout the country. Most recently news has broken regarding a decision on the long-fought battle between the Ontario municipalities of Ajax and Pickering.
Ajax has spent a long while attempting to fight for ownership of the casino originally awarded to Pickering, but it seems like progress has been made. Finally, after months of stalemate, the Ontario government has finally ruled to keep two casinos, one in each of the towns. This has proven to be a controversial decision, as the two towns are only seven kilometres apart, and the casinos are owned by the same company!
There have been disagreements raging for some time, and it was recently agreed that the Ajax Downs casino should remain in Ajax. Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, who own both casinos, had originally planned to uproot Ajax Downs, and move the casino to Pickering for an expansion and renovation project. This was opposed by MPP for Ajax, Rod Phillips, who claimed, “People sometimes like to have the choice of different entertainment options.”
Phillips does have a point, and if the original renovation had gone through it would have proven wildly different. Following this decision, gamblers will get to continue enjoying the 500 slot machines and quarter-horse race track that have been such an iconic feature of the Ajax Downs. But, they will also be well-placed to be able to enjoy the much larger Durham Live casino, which will boast more than 2,500 slots and 1,000 different table games.
Since the summer the two communities of Pickering and Ajax have been waiting on this decision, and now it is here, this does seem like the best option for all concerned. It will certainly bring in more money to the province, as well as the two areas in question, not to mention the fact that there is more choice. However, there are concerns from each side about the competition that another casino in such close proximity might bring.
Meanwhile, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp was forced to change its rules to allow the two casinos to remain in their respective locations. This seemed to be an unprecedented move as OLG recently had to be convinced to sign off on a waterfront casino project. Original rules permitted only one casino in the suburbs of Toronto, but the company said it was satisfied that the project was commercially viable for Ontario as a province.
Whether this might lead to further calls for similar action in other provinces certainly remains to be seen.