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Summer was hot for Ontario casinos

Dec 26, 2000 9:28 AM

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont.—Summer was good to Ontario gambling casinos, with the second quarter (July to September) showing marked improvement over first quarter numbers.

Traditionally, summertime is tourist time and that spells business for Ontario and especially Niagara Falls. Casino Niagara’s revenues grew 9.9 percent in the second quarter on gross revenues of $52.9 million as compared to $49.1 million during the last quarter.

Revenues, however, were down 11.5 percent from the same quarter last year when the casino’s numbers were $59.8 million. Casino Niagara’s drop in dollars can easily be explained. In the last year the market area has been infiltrated by slot casinos at Mohawk, Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks and a successful charity casino opened in Brantford.

But generally, gambling has brought employment and growing economies to the province.

"Ontario’s gaming facilities continued to make substantial contributions to local and provincial economies with the creation of 450 new jobs bringing the combined payroll to $550 million," said Ron D. Barbaro, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

The OLGC released these facts:

 CHARITY CASINOS

The annual payroll at the four charity casinos is more than $80 million with 2,600 employees.

The Point Edward Charity Casino and slot facility at Hiawatha Racetrack are credited with increasing border traffic between Point Edward and Port Huron—mostly American—which has resulted in the necessity to expand the duty free space to almost three times the current size.

More than $2.6 million in non-taxable revenue has been distributed to the host municipalities of Sault Ste. Marie, Brantford, Point Edward and Thunder Bay during fiscal 2000-01.

 RACETRACK SLOTS

The 10 slot operations at racetracks have created more than 2,400 direct jobs and have an estimated annual payroll of $85 million.

Second quarter gross slot machine earnings of $52.5 million was shared evenly by the horsemen and the track operators.

During the second quarter $6.5 million was shared evenly between Ontario host municipalities.

CASINO NIAGARA

Casino Niagara may have even more competition for the gambling dollar and this time it could come from the American side of the Falls. Please note the word "could."

The Seneca Nation of Indians, who have been unsuccessfully seeking a casino or two from the State of New York, are in negotiations with a Baltimore-based developer who hopes to put high stakes Bingo and Class II gaming into its property in Niagara Falls.

The Seneca already have high stakes bingo on their reservations south of Buffalo but the Cordish Company of Baltimore hopes to move the action into the Rainbow Mall directly across the bridge from Casino Niagara. The Cordish Company, headed by David Cordish, is working with the Seminole tribe in Florida to finance and build a $300 million hotel and gambling complex in Hollywood, Fla.

While the Senecas currently have Class III gaming, Class II gaming would mean the installation of video multi-game machines similar to those used by the Oneida Nation of Indians at Turning Stone Casino.

Cordish is best known as a key developer in Baltimore’s waterfront and currently is involved with a revitalization plan for Buffalo’s waterfront area. The Senecas are cautious, only saying that talks have been held but that there is much to be done before plans can go forth.

GOOD NEIGHBOR

Casino Niagara’s associates continue to play good neighbor to the Niagara Falls area, distributing 3,200 toys and food to 3,500 families after a collection drive.