The Government of the Ontario Premier Doug Ford has revealed an agreement under which it would give a permission for two casinos situated in a very close proximity to each other to operate. The decision has been made in an attempt to satisfy two municipalities situated east of Toronto, both of which have been engaged with a long fight regarding the future of the region’s gambling industry.
The province of Ontario revealed that it has reached a so-called “agreement-in-principle”, under which the casino at Ajax Downs will remain in operation. This, however, required the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) to change its rules in order to make the two venues operating, as the existing Ajax casino would have to compete with the planned Durham Live casino complex in Pickering, which is only nearby.
— Mayor Steve Parish (@MayorParish) October 9, 2018
Now, as revealed by the provincial Government, Great Canadian Gaming Corp. will be permitted to operate both casinos under a 2017 contract with OLG to run gambling facilities situated in the area of Greater Toronto. Earlier in 2018, the casino and gambling operator revealed that it was planning to move the Ajax Down casino to neighboring Pickering.
The Town of Ajax & #AjaxCouncil extends our gratitude and appreciation to our partners at all levels for coming through to save the Slots at Ajax Downs and quarter horse racing in Ajax. pic.twitter.com/0HuEfTe1n3
— Town of Ajax (@TownOfAjax) October 9, 2018
As a result, a controversy between the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Ajax, Rod Phillips, and Ajax Mayor Steve Parish has occurred, as the two of them argued whether there is a room for two casinos in the local market. According to Mr. Phillips, the two facilities will offer different experiences.
The number of slot machines at the Ajax Casino will be cut from 800 to 500, and it will keep its existing quarter-horse race track. According to the revealed project, the Durham Live casino will offer 2,700 slot machines and 1,000 table games, with the gambling and entertainment complex set to be complemented by hotels and theme parks.
Ajax Casino Not a Threat to Durham Live, Says Pickering Mayor
Ajax Mayor Mr. Parish has long been involved in the ongoing controversy in an attempt to make sure that the town would keep the casino. He described the local Government’s announcement as a “very positive thing” for the town, especially in regard to jobs and revenue sharing. Currently, the municipality receives about CA$7.5 million on an annual basis. According to Mr. Parish, the Ontario Government’s decision will also support the only quarter-horse racing facility in Ontario.
The Mayor of Pickering, Dave Ryan, has shared that the Ontario Government’s decision came as a no surprise to him, especially considering the spring election campaign of Mr. Phillips and Mr. Ford. He further explained that the move could hardly be a threat to the proposed Durham Live facility because the mega-casino complex would offer much more than the Ajax Casino.
— Town of Ajax (@TownOfAjax) February 21, 2018
Earlier this year, the Ajax City Council voted to keep the Ajax Casino in town, but the venue’s future remained uncertain. A closure of the Ajax Casino was planned, along with a relocation of the facility’s operations to Pickering. After local councilors passed a motion urging the provincial parties to back the status-quo, as such a relocation would be bad for Ontario taxpayers.