In a Tuesday news release, Canadian casino and hospitality operator, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (TSX:GC), announced that they will move forward with municipal permitting for a premier casino resort at the site of a massive entertainment development, Durham Live, recently approved for the city of Pickering at Church and Bayly streets.
Located in Southern Ontario in the Regional Municipality of Durham, what is expected to be a major tourist destination and create upwards of 10,000 new local jobs, Durham Live is being developed by Triple Properties, and in addition to a full-service casino, Durham Live Casino, will reportedly offer a five-star hotel, convention centre, film studios, boutique hotel, waterpark, office tower, restaurants, cinemas, and other attractions, according to a Wednesday news release from the City of Pickering.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan said, “With respect to augmenting gaming revenues, economic development, boosting tourism, and significant job creation, Durham Live represents an unparalleled opportunity for Durham Region and the Province of Ontario. We thank the Developer – the Apostolopoulos family; OGGLP; and the Province for their shared confidence in Pickering,” according to the city’s news release.
After the application for the re-zoning of three pieces of land in Pickering received approval from the city’s council, the Town of Ajax challenged the decision and in Feb. last year, the Ontario Municipal Board ruled in favor of the plans for the entertainment destination that could include a casino.
Casino Ajax, located next to Ajax Downs, which offers live quarter horse racing, and Durham Live were both in the running for a casino, however, under provincial rules, only one gaming facility can exist in Pickering, Whitby and Ajax, which means if a casino were to open in Pickering, the Ajax Casino would have to close and vice versa. According to the news release, once the new resort is operational in late 2019, members at Casino Ajax will transfer over.
“We look forward to welcoming our existing team members to join us at the new facility once construction is complete, along with 1,700 new members of our family,” said Great Canadian Gaming president and CEO, Rod Baker. “Investing hundreds of millions of private sector dollars in the Durham Region economy will mean more construction and operations jobs for people in Ajax and Pickering, more procurement opportunities for local companies, more tourism in the region, and more government revenues to support communities.”
Ontario Gaming GTA LP, a partnership between the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Toronto-based Brookfield Business Partners L.P. (NYSE:BBU)(TSX:BBU.UN), is behind the plan for the casino at the Durham Live site located off Highway 401 in the city of about 91,771 and will operate the Pickering casino.
However, on Monday the Toronto Star reported that the Town of Ajax wanted a casino decision delayed until after the June 7 provincial election and in a recent statement said, “Minister Leal’s closure leak followed by MPP (Joe) Dickson’s promise letter clearly indicates the litany of bad faith and strategic dealings of the government to close the Ajax facility — one of the most successful casinos in North America.”
According to DurhamRegion.com, the Town of Ajax has reportedly received revenue upwards of $61 million from the Slots at Ajax Downs, which has been operating since 2006 and additionally supports Ajax Downs helping to provide 1,700 agricultural jobs.
Pickering Councillor David Pickles said, “Ajax has done well by Ajax Slots having received about $75 million for its use since it opened, but the province and OLG wanted to go with an improved business model and a competitive process,” according to a Wednesday report from the Toronto Star.
Pickles went on to say that Durham Live will expand on gaming, hotel, convention and entertainment opportunities, which will result in more jobs and revenue. He said, “We could be looking at up to $25 million per year in financial benefits and 15,000 jobs when everything is up and running. That’s a huge benefit to our community and taxpayers.”
In addition to the estimated 10,000 new local jobs that would reportedly be created by Durham Live, the casino itself would have approximately 2,000 employees, including 1,700 new jobs.
Last summer, Great Canadian Gaming along with Brookfield Business Partners was chosen by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation to manage three facilities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack.