The Town of Ajax and the City of Pickering now seem to be the winners in the casino game after the province of Ontario has used a sensible approach to resolve the casino dilemma revealed last Tuesday.
An announcement regarding an agreement in principle between Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment and the Province of Ontario and new Ajax MPP under which the Casino Ajax venue is to remain operational until 2026, was recently announced. Apart from that, there will be an option for the facility to continue operating for another 12 years after 2026. The number of slot machines in the facility, however, is to be reduced from 800 to 500.
The latest decision on the matter overturned a decision made by the previous Liberal Government, which rules against the gambling facility and decided to close Casino Ajax. This, however, would have led to a massive gambling revenue loss for the Town of Ajax, as the latter has received up to CA$80 million from the venue since it opened back in 2006. The new decision about the future of the casino is to also save the quarter-horse racing industry in the Durham Region.
Great Canadian Backs Durham Live’s Bid for Pickering Casino
The spring of 2017 saw the casino operator Great Canadian Gaming Corporation reveal its decision to support Durham Live’s bid to build a casino in Pickering, with the Ajax Casino set to close at the time when the Pickering casino starts operation as of the end of 2019.
Rod Phillips, the Minister of the Environment, has been supportive to the idea of keeping the Ajax Casino since the beginning of his campaign. During the campaign in June 2018, he made a pledge to overturn the decision regarding the closure of the gambling venue and keep the facility operational.
Reportedly, the Town of Ajax and its residents will still get an annual revenue ranging between CA$4.5 and CA$5 million for being home to the venue, despite the fact that the number of the slot machines in the casino was cut from 800 to 500. In addition, the Ajax Casino will continue to provide funding for the quarter-horse racing industry in the region, which currently employs approximately 1,700 people in the province of Ontario. For the time being, the only-horse racing venue on the territory of eastern Canada is Picov Downs, which was set to close with the expected closure of the Ajax Casino.
At the same time, in Pickering, the restrictions on the Durham Live lands have been removed by the city council in order to get the casino project on track. The casino project is expected to make a contribution of gambling tax revenue of approximately CA$1.3 billion in incremental annual GDP.