The city of Niagara Falls is in the enviable position of dividing up an extra $6.4 million for municipal projects across the region. The money was a reimbursement from the period of April through June, paid by the OLG for hosting two of Ontario’s most well-established casinos.
The money is a reimbursement over only 3 months under the OLG’s new revenue sharing arrangement. The new agreement is part of the OLG gambling modernization strategy, which expands casino games and gambling centres across the province. Revenue sharing was an important part of the strategy as mandated by the Ontario government, which ensured all communities were entitled to their fair share of casino hosting fees.
Under the old agreement, Niagara Falls received $3 million annually for hosting both Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara. The new agreement provides a fairer distribution of OLG revenue, and pays back a larger amount to communities through higher casino hosting fees. Early estimations suggest Niagara Falls could receive between $18 million and $20 million by the end of the year.
The additional money is increasing smiles around Niagara Falls city hall, where politicians are eager to decide how to use the extra funds. Ken Todd, the city’s chief administrative officer, cautions leaders against guaranteeing more money to spending or development projects for the time being. Todd believes the city’s finance department should have at least one full year with the new casino revenue sharing model before any permanent spending commitments are promised by political leaders.
The Niagara Falls revenue sharing formula offers new insight as to how the OLG expansion strategy could benefit communities across the province. The details of the Niagara Falls case may also help communities in Ottawa, Hamilton, and other regions interested in their own casino decide what is in their best interests.