Municipality more than doubles its take with casino move to Chatham

Monday 24th February 2020

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has so far taken in more than double from the new Chatham casino than it did for being the municipal host to the slot machines in Dresden.

The Gateway Cascades Casino opened in Chatham in mid-July last year, coinciding with the closure of Gateway Casinos Dresden at Dresden Raceway.

Municipalities that are the host to gambling facilities are given a share of the revenue by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation every quarter.

Chatham-Kent received $452,642 for the first quarter the new casino was open, which was up from $216,525 the previous year. The municipality took in $401,654 the next quarter, an increase over the $194,749 received for the same October to December period from 2018.

The total earnings over the first two quarters marks a 107.7 per cent increase over the revenue previously earned at the Dresden slots.

"This is definitely something we were expecting when it was moved over," said Mayor Darrin Canniff. "The expectation was it would double and that's kind of where we're coming in right now."

Canniff said they included $1.6 million in revenue from the OLG in the municipality's operating budget for 2020.

During the 2018 calendar year, the municipality received $866,519 for being the municipal host to the Dresden slots.

The new casino is larger than the Dresden operation, with approximately 300 slots - double what was previously available. The Chatham facility also has table games, which weren't offered in Dresden, and the municipality takes four per cent of the revenue from those, according to the OLG.

The revenue from the slots works on a graduated system. Municipalities receive 5.25 per cent on the first $65 million in revenue, three per cent on the next $135 million, 2.5 per cent on the next $300 million and 0.5 per cent on revenue above $500 million.

An interview request to the spokesperson for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. was not returned before deadline.

Canniff said the funds are used for expenses like Chatham-Kent's community grants program.

"We're doing a number of things in the community with that money, but what we do in those programs is still a lot less than what we receive," he said. "It just goes into general tax dollars."

This year, the funds helped offset a larger tax increase, he said.

"We're going to receive that revenue every year. We budget for that and it lowers taxes," said Canniff.

The mayor said he is pleased with the revenue coming in so far, but there are other benefits to having the larger casino.

"They pay property taxes themselves," he said. "They create 300 jobs and it provides another place to go in Chatham-Kent as far as entertainment, so what a wonderful addition it has been for the community."

Canniff said the municipality would like to see even more growth.

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