The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) met on September 15 and signed an agreement that officially changed the status of the Great Blue Heron charity facility into a fully fledged commercial gambling hall. To celebrate this transition, MSIFN donated more than $500,000 to four organizations that work with the local community.

OLG had announced in 2013 that it was rolling out a new modernization gambling plan that would bring significant changes to Ontario’s gambling industry. MSIFN initially opposed these changes as the tribe believed new casinos in the region would cut into the profits of its charity casino. After holding discussions with the OLG, an agreement was reached in July 2016 for the Great Blue Heron to change its gaming model.

As part of the new modernization gambling plan, MSIFN will have lesser control over casino operations. The Great Blue Heron has functioned as a hybrid casino with MSIFN partnering with Casinos Austria to manage table games at the casino while OLG was responsible for slot machines at the facility. From September 8, the casino has been part of a new GTA gaming bundle that puts it together with casinos in Woodbine and Ajax. Based on OLG’s plan, a new service provider will be chosen before the end of 2018, who will then oversee all three casinos in this bundle.

The Baagwating Community Association (BCA) which has been the charity arm of the Great Blue Heron casino will now be replaced by a new charitable donations committee from MSIFN. The MSIFN-BCA partnership over the years has contributed more than $13.5 million to a number of charities in the province. Kelly LaRocca, chief of the MSIFN appreciated the BCA for its long term partnership and work with the MSIFN.

In a statement, Chief LaRocca said “As a council, we are so proud of the BCA’s hard work and dedication. Since the inception of GBH, the MSIFN, through the BCA, has supported worthwhile causes. MSIFN donations will continue to be under the discretion of the First Nation as the GBH moves into this new phase for gaming. MSIFN will continue to give back to the community in which we live. We will continue to help those who need help”

MSIFN added to the $13.5 million with its recent $500,000 donation and the four charities to benefit from that donation were the Scugog Lake Stewards, Grandview Children’s Hospital, The Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada and the Port Perry Hospital. MSIFN has promised to continue its charity work even though the Great Blue Heron charity casino has transitioned to a commercial facility.