Casino News

Tribal Nation Opposes New Pickering Casino Resort

Pickering Casino Resort is one of the hot topics over the past couple of years, but especially so within the last days, as its first phase was recently greenlighted. The casino resort welcomed its first gaming patrons over the weekend, but it also managed to stir the pot with its launch. The Mississaugas of Scugog Island has once again expressed their discontentment.

The Indigenous operator of Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island have made it clear that this new casino resort launch essentially breaks a previous agreement with the provincial government. It aimed to put a cap on the number of gambling hotspots in the Durham region, in particular, thus protecting the tribal gaming complex in operation.

Mississaugas of Scugog Island

Tribal gaming operation provides Indigenous communities with a way to support themselves and various programs aiming to see them thrive. Great Blue Heron Casino in Point Perry is among the leading gaming complexes in the region. The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation first opened the gaming hall in 1997 and ever since then, its daily work has only grown. Expansion is also in the cards.

Now the tribal nation has taken it upon itself to raise awareness of a previous agreement with Premier Doug Ford. According to that agreement, the tribal gaming venue must not have its operation jeopardized by new casino locations built in the vicinity. The distance between Great Blue Heron Casino and the newly launched Pickering Casino Resort is about 60 kilometers, but this is still too close for the Indigenous tribe’s taste and the agreement, according to them.

Chief Kelly LaRocca made it clear that Premier Ford has once again treaded over previously inked arrangements, in order to achieve his political goals. Back in 2018, the provincial government gave its nod to a set of regulations, making it possible for Pickering Casino Resort, then called Durham Live to go ahead.

Previous Agreement

Ever since then, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has been working on the casino resort and its successful launch. The casino operator and Brookfield Business Partners have successfully completed the acquisition of the gaming assets in the Greater Toronto Area. The two companies officially took over the day-to-day operations and assets of OLG Slots at Woodbine Racetrack, OLG Slots at Ajax Downs, and Great Blue Heron Casino through a CA$170 million transition and asset purchase agreement with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Back in 2018, the conversation around Great Blue Heron Casino expansion commenced. The casino operator is willing to pour some CA$700 million into the expansion of all three facilities. The tribal complex, in particular, could see a hotel building, a 500-seat entertainment center for live musical acts. The casino venue was also part of the expansion project, adding some 20,000 square feet to it. Players will be able to enjoy a wider range of table games, as well as premium slot machines.

Source: Hendry, Glenn. “Blue Heron operators say Durham Live casino project in Pickering “violates signed agreements” with First Nations band”,, July 26, 2021