Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is now a step closer to finding the next operator of its casino in Windsor. Recent reports suggest the Crown agency has narrowed down its search to three major gambling companies from North America. Due to its ongoing review of applications from the gambling regulator, it has refused to confirm the names of the three candidates.
Currently, the Windsor gaming establishment is operated by gambling powerhouse Caesars Entertainment and its contract runs out in 2025, while it is owned by the OLG. For the first time in over 30 years, the license to operate the day-to-day gambling operations at the property is up for grabs. It is expected that the winner will be announced by the fall of 2024.
According to The Globe and Mail, the process of finding a new operator for the casino has now turned into a three-horse race. The three favourites are the current operator Caesars Entertainment, which could lose the license to Bally’s Corporation or indigenous-owned Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment. The latter already operates two casinos in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
In Windsor, the mayor, tourism officials, and union officials, have declared their support for the establishment to remain under Caesars’ wing. Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, a labour union that represents workers from the establishment, said the company should be the frontrunner, based on the job it has done managing the gaming amenity and providing quality jobs.
Caesars is one of the world’s biggest gambling firms, as it has a portfolio of 53 casinos, including 15 properties in Nevada. Meanwhile, Bally’s operates 15 casinos, and Mohegan is responsible for eight gaming establishments. Caesars has not posted specific financial results from the casino, but it remains clear as overall numbers suggest the property is a major economic engine in Windsor.
Under the current, Municipality Contribution Agreement, OLG shares a percentage of the casino’s revenue with its host community. In the fall of 2023, the Crown sent out its Q2 of 2023-24 gambling allocation to the city, which amounted to CA$2.3 million. Since its opening, the property has now delivered over CA$88 million in non-tax gambling proceeds.
Auditor General Puts OLG under Scrutiny
OLG’s move to find a new suitor for the casino is the answer to the provincial Auditor-General’s report from 2022. Back then the AG criticized the Crown for allowing three casino operators to redo their 20-year contract after the lockdown provisions were lifted, and decrease their guarantee payments. The Windsor property is now the last one with a contract to be redone.
The objective of the OLG is to boost the province’s takes while pushing third-party operators to enhance their investment in the properties. Under the previous contracts, the regulator and operators had to split revenue. But now, companies must guarantee a pre-determined annual payment to OLG, and operators keep 70% of revenues above the amount.
Source: Willis, Andrew “Three gambling rivals fight for the casino that saved Windsor” The Globe and Mail, January 15, 2024