Niagara Falls Predicts New Toronto Casino Will Affect Tourism
The announcement of a new CA$1 billion Las Vegas-style casino in Toronto, Ontario, has Niagara Falls alarmed about the impact on its operations. The new casino resort is on schedule to launch in the summer of 2023, but Niagara Falls officials expect that the property will affect foot traffic and finances as a major tourist attraction in the province.
The new project of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was just recently announced and it will be officially named Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto. As the name suggests, the resort will be operated by Great Canadian Entertainment. Besides a rich gaming floor, it will also feature an enormous hotel, fine dining amenities, an entertainment venue, and a parkade.
The City’s CAO Jason Burgess shared that specific numbers related to a potential decline are hard to predict, but believes the drop will affect the city’s target of improving more than 14 million visitors annually. He is hopeful to reach 14 or 15 million visitors, however, the city’s numbers could also be impacted by the introduction of online gambling in the province.
Prior to the unprecedented situation of 2020, the city pocketed approximately CA$20 million per year in contributions from OLG for hosting Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara. However, for this year, it was projected that the city will only manage to generate just 60% of that money as its land-based casinos are still recovering from the closures in the last three years.
Mayor Jim Diodati shared that a big numbers of patrons at the two Niagara Falls casinos come from the Greater Toronto Area. And once the new Toronto debuts operations, it is expected that it will have a material impact on Niagara Falls. Also, city officials say that around 40% of visitors who come to Niagara Falls in the summer season are Ontarians.
Mayor Diodati also remarked that the province should not cut the pie into smaller portions and instead grow it. He also noted that OLG’s model is not optimal, as currently, third-party companies operate casinos in the province. Meaning, in his words, that corporations will not be willing to invest heavily in the properties as they are not the owners.
City’s Tourism CEO and president Janice Thomson, said the 5,000-seat live entertainment venue, unique businesses and the city provide an attraction to visitors. She added casinos are also a major attraction point for visitors. Meanwhile, spokespeople for the casinos did not provide direct comment on the new Toronto casino but said the company is committed to tourism in the city.
Enhancing Betting Options
It should be stated that in the fall of 2022, both Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara started offering in-person sports wagering on their premises. However, this was possible after sports betting technology was provided by Kambi Group. The operator Mohegan Gaming Entertainment announced a partnership with the provider in September 2022.