March 20, 2023 3 min read


Toronto Gambling Expansion Threatens MSIFN Economic Health

The announcement of the upcoming Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto doesn’t sit well with the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN)

The Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto is expected to open its doors this summer. The announcement pleased many industry participants and punters were happy with the prospect. However, First Nation considered it part of a behavioral pattern that might threaten its economic health, as more gaming establishments in the area means a more fragmented market share distribution.

First Nation Says Original Agreements Are Disrespected

MSIFN’s Chief Kelly LaRocca said in an interview with CDC Gaming Reports that new casinos in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are eating away from the Great Blue Heron Casino (GBH) market share. GBH is owned by MSIFN and is operated by Great Canadian Entertainment. The operator is also running Woodbine Casino, which is the one being expanded later this summer.

Additionally, according to the interview with CDC Gaming, MSIFN puts this move in context by looking at how gambling expansion in the area leads to reduced market share for GBH. This, in turn, means that the revenue-share agreement that MSIFN and GBH have can hardly be observed in a climate of an expanding gaming scene, shrinking the MSIFN-owned casino’s positions.

Having GBH operated at the level of Great Canadian’s other operations is a cornerstone for the issues raised. The goal that MSIFN laid out for GBH was to have the facility updated, with non-gaming amenities being a special consideration. Furthermore, reopening the 2016 agreement is seen as a necessity at this point, and MSIFN is scheduled for mediation with the government in the summer.

The Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto is – in essence – the expansion of an already existing casino – the Woodbine Casino. Chief LaRocca also listed leaving the Ajax casino open as a sign of continued behavioral trend for the government. The Pickering Casino Resort opened recently, which was also noted by MSIFN as a sign of continued disrespect towards the original agreements of the Natives.

GTA Casino Expansion Causes Controversies

Pickering Casino Resort cost the Great Canadian Group C$500 million (approximately $373 million) and is another instance of the group’s name coming up during the CDC Gaming interview. The gaming and hospitality group assumed GBH operations from the First Nation in 2016. It also operates the slots at Ajax and Woodbine casinos.

The entertainment resort scheduled for later this year is a $1 billion project, which synergizes well with the Woodbine Racetrack to which it’s adjacent. It also fits Great Canadian’s plans for offering the very best entertainment, hospitality and dining available in the area. The Ontario government and the crown corporation (OLG) is also thrilled about the opportunity and the new jobs this creates.

However, it seems that the upcoming Toronto casino resort might also be causing some additional headaches in dealing with the issues that Chief LaRocca raised in the interview. At any rate, Toronto’s gaming scene as a whole is evolving, and the Greater Toronto Area – it seems – is by no means an exception, so dealing with these problems is necessary but also par for the course.


Kyamil is a big tech fan, who loves hummus on everything and has enjoyed writing from a young age. From essays, through personal art, to news pieces and more serious tech analysis. In recent years he’s found fintech and gambling collide with all his interests, so he truly shares our core passion for the entire gambling scene and furthering the education of the mass citizen on these topics.

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