News of Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto opening this summer has gone down like a lead balloon at the Mississaugas of Scugog First Nation (MSIFN).
Great Canadian Entertainment shared details on the brand-new $1bn entertainment resort earlier this week, revealing it would feature a PlaySmart centre in partnership with Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG).
However, MSIFN has expressed its anger at the decision, saying it is “appalled” and “outraged” as the organization prepares to mediate, in the coming months, its disputes with the government over the expansion of gaming in the GTA.
In 2016, MSIFN – as the owner of the Great Blue Heron Casino – entered into agreements with the government and OLG, as part of Ontario’s modernization scheme.
The agreements, in part, were meant to ensure that the Great Blue Heron Casino would be operated in a ‘comparative manner’ to other government casinos in the GTA, and revenue would be provided to MSIFN to support development and services for the First Nation, including the provision of clean drinking water in the community.
“We entered into our agreements with OLG and the government with a shared understanding that OLG and the government would act in good faith and in accordance with their Honour of the Crown obligations, and in particular their contractual obligations set out in the agreements,” said MSIFN Chief, Kelly LaRocca.
“Once again, the government is acting without any engagement with MSIFN and is acting to disadvantage the Great Blue Heron Casino at MSIFN.”
When Great Canadian Entertainment won the bid to redevelop the Toronto-area casinos, LaRocca applauded the selection, particularly for the government choosing a Canadian company. Since then, the tribe has repeatedly raised concerns about how land-based expansion has been executed in the state.
Mediation between the Ontario government and MSIFN regarding the government’s actions to date is scheduled to commence this summer.
Meanwhile, GCE is expected to announce an opening date for its new casino in the coming weeks, with the existing Casino Woodbine continuing to operate as normal in the meantime.
LaRocca continued: “We’ve been engaging with the government, OLG, and Great Canadian Entertainment on these issues for years, and finally we’ve reached the point of entering mediation in the coming months.
“Once again, however, the Ford government chooses to implement its decisions and ask questions later. It’s utter disregard for our First Nation and the Honour of the Crown. We continue to focus our good faith efforts on the mediation and will brace for whatever comes next.”