Last week, Ontario announced that it will be launching a CA$1 billion gaming property in Toronto, however, Niagara Falls’ Mayor Jim Diodati is getting worried. In a recent interview, the mayor said that the introduction of the new casino could lead to cannibalization of the industry in the province, and have a negative impact on Niagara Falls’ two major casinos.
According to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Toronto’s new casino would be the largest one in the province, and it is on schedule to launch in the summer of 2023. It will be operated by Great Canadian Entertainment and it would be branded Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto. On top of a casino, it would come with a hotel, entertainment centre, and a parkade.
Gaming Model Could be an Issue
After the announcement of the new CA$1 billion casino, Mayor Diodati spoke on its possible effect on the local land-based gaming industry. He said the province should not cut the pie into smaller portions and instead grow it. He added that Niagara Falls is a unique destination for the country, and maybe a new model is needed as the gambling sector has changed drastically.
Currently, Ontario owns the casinos, while third-party operators are in charge of the properties. He explained that through this model, the outsider firms will not invest major money to upgrade someone else’s casinos. He gave Las Vegas as an example, where operators own the property and it is in their interest to make enhancements to them by reinvesting and rebuilding.
He said the original OLG mandate for Niagara Falls was to utilize gambling properties which would drive tourism, investment, economic development, and employment. The mayor also noted that a very small portion of the two casinos in the city is from the U.S. He explained it due to the fact that New York’s properties allow smoking and offer free drinks.
Additionally, he remarked 50% of tourism revenue in the city comes from Americans, however, the numbers are drastically lower when it comes to the two casinos. He claims that this is due to the cannibalization of the market, which he believes must grow and focus on the U.S. and international markets, and let Niagara Falls play to its strengths.
Now Offering Retail Sports Betting
It should be mentioned that Niagara Falls’ two gaming properties Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara launched in-person sports betting for its patrons to enjoy. Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort debuted it on November 16, 2022, and incorporated 21 kiosks. Meanwhile, Niagara Casino introduced it on November 23, 2022, with fewer machines on its floor.
The launch of retail sports betting at the two casinos was only possible after Ontario green-lit the introduction across the province. Technology was provided by Kambi’s Group in a deal announced in September 2022. Through the partnership, Kambi supplied its first-at-class on-property sports betting platform to Mohegan Gaming Entertainment.
Source: Spiteri, Ray “Ontario gaming industry ‘cannibalizing’ itself, says Niagara Falls mayor” Welland Tribune, March 14, 2023