In Canada, the city council for Niagara Falls has unanimously passed an official resolution asking the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation to seek its advice and opinion as the casino regulator seeks a new service provider to run the day-to-day operations of two area gambling venues.
According to a report from the Niagara Falls Review newspaper, Niagara Falls has been home to the Casino Niagara since 1996 while 2004 saw the opening of the much larger Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. Both properties are owned by the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation but managed by Toronto-based Falls Management Group, which is an arrangement that is due to expire on June 10, 2019, and the Crown corporation is now seeking a new arrangement for what it is calling its “Niagara Gaming Bundle”.
As such, the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation has issued a request for pre-qualification so that it will be able to pre-approve proponents that are eligible to receive future request-for-proposal documents. The newspaper reported that this action is set to close on December 15 followed closely by the start of the request-for-proposal process and the eventual selection of a new service provider.
However, the resolution drafted by Niagara Falls City Council member Victor Pietrangelo asks the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation to postpone the request for pre-qualification until the city’s “goals and objectives are incorporated and we are treated as key partners in the process”.
“We’re very supportive of separately managed properties so that we can utilize the benefits of competition,” Pietrangelo told the Niagara Falls Review, “We’d like to see both properties, not just one, re-branded and re-developed.”
The newspaper reported that Pietrangelo stated that his effort is an attempt to help inform Ontario officials “what works best for us” in order to protect “the long-term security of the employees at both of our casinos” and the “the businesses that rely on the casinos”.
“This isn’t a minor decision that the province is about to make,” said Pietrangelo. “I think we’ve been waiting almost 25 years in order to get this opportunity so if we don’t get a kick at the can this time then likely we’ll be waiting another 25 years.”
Tony Bitonti from the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation told the newspaper that his organization had received the council’s resolution but he would not discuss the any details because the request for pre-qualification and request-for-proposal processes involve “a lot of information of a commercially sensitive nature”.
“But saying that, all the communities that are impacted by modernization, the whole process, have the opportunity, within these procurement rules, for input,” Bitonti told the Niagara Falls Review. “I can tell you that Niagara Falls has taken advantage of those opportunities.”
Bitonti declared that the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation establishes a special data room for every community involved in its request-for-proposal processes that allows proponents to access information it has received from host municipalities.
“We also connect the host municipalities with the prospective proponents through webinars, meetings, that type of thing, so they can discuss the opportunities, they can ask questions,” said Bitonti.
While refusing to discuss specific details, Bitonti told the newspaper that the casinos in Niagara Falls need to be modernized in order to ensure “there is greater consistency in the provincial gaming market and that, ultimately, it will maximize the benefit of what we do”.
“That money goes back to the people of the province of Ontario,” said Bitonti. “The $2 billion that we raise now goes back to hospitals for health care, for community infrastructure. We want to leverage the success that the Niagara casinos have had. Everything that we’ve done, we want to make sure that we maximize that benefit, not only for us, but for Niagara, for the gaming market, because we want to make sure that we can be competitive for the long term, especially with what we see across the border.”