The goods news is Ontario casino gaming revenue-sharing agreements delivered more than double the money to 28 provincial municipalities in fiscal 2021-22 compared to the prior year.
Not as great is the fact the nearly $83 million total is about half the amount those communities received prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Association released the revenue-sharing figures for those communities that host major bricks-and-mortar casinos. In the fiscal year 2021-22, which ended March 31, the OLG delivered exactly $82,942,969, total, to host communities. That’s up 118% over the fiscal year 2020-21 when municipalities received some $38 million from the program. In each of the three fiscal years before that, host municipalities received around $161 million. That means the most recent total is off about 48% from pre-pandemic levels.
The payments to municipalities were:
- Fiscal 2016-17 — $146.3 million
- 2017-18 — $160.8 million
- 2018-19 — $160.8 million
- 2019-20 — $161 million
- 2020-21 — $38 million
- 2021-22 — $82.9 million
Why are host municipalities receiving less?
The reason Ontario municipalities are receiving about half of what they once did from the program is simple.
As an OLG press release explains, “The payments are based on a formula consistently applied across all gaming sites in Ontario using a graduated scale of gaming revenue at the hosted site.”
COVID-19 restrictions closed the province’s casinos from March-September 2020 and December 2020 to February 2021 (about 10 months). That’s why municipalities received only $38 million in fiscal 2020-21.
Casinos closed for four months from April 2021 to July in the most recent fiscal year. They also closed for about a month between January and February of 2022.
Revenue-sharing deals with Ontario municipalities only apply to land-based casinos. Operators in the new Ontario online casino market, which opened April 4, do not share revenue directly with municipalities. Instead, they are taxed and regulated by the province, with the revenue going into the government’s general coffers.
Program has returned more than $1.8 billion to communities
In a press release announcing the 2021-22 payments to municipalities, Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy said:
“Municipality Contribution Agreements are an important source of funding for municipalities. And (they) help deliver critical services that the people of Ontario enjoy. Land-based casinos create good, local jobs and play an important role in supporting in our economy, and the government will always support a strong and vibrant gaming sector in Ontario.”
The release also said, “Service providers have invested an estimated $1.8 billion in private sector capital development across the province. Since 2017, five (5) new casinos, including Cascades Casino North Bay, have been built in Ontario and a number of other casinos have also been recently enhanced and/or expanded.”
Over the life of the revenue-sharing program, the OLG reports host communities have received more than $1.8 billion in non-tax gaming revenue.