Scugog Island’s Great Blue Heron aims to compete with the best casinos in Ontario Canada.
The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) couldn’t be happier than they are this week. The news broke Monday that the tribe’s Great Blue Heron Casino will finally receive the long-awaited expansion they’ve been requesting for more than a decade.
The gaming hall, first opened in 1997, is about to undergo a substantial upgrade. According to MSIFN, the property will soon host a 100-room hotel. The draft proposal also calls for a 20,000sq-ft addition to install more slot machines and table games. If all goes as planned, the existing slot machine will be shuffled around to make room for a 500-seat entertainment venue, as well.
MSIFN Thrilled by Canadian Casino Expansion
“It’s a big day for our tiny community,” said MSIFN Chief Kelly LaRocca, speaking at a special event hosted to announce the plans on Monday.
She assured everyone that the casino will remain open during the expansion phase. The proposal calls for construction to start in the spring, and wrap up before the end of 2018.
“It’s been a very long journey to develop the Great Blue Heron and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” LaRocca expressed unbridled enthusiasm.
Although still collecting partial revenue from Great Blue Heron as the host municipality, MSFIN hasn’t had much involvement with the casino for the last two years. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) took over management in 2016. Then, in 2017, the OLG allocated day-to-day managerial rights to the Ontario Gaming GTA LP (OGGLP), a joint partnership between Great Canadian Gaming Corp (GCG) and investment firm Brookfield Business Partners LP.
OGGLP has exclusive rights to operate the Scugog Island casino, and several other gaming properties in the Greater Toronto Area, for the next 22 years. As such, that group will be providing the funding for the expansion of Great Blue Heron.
LaRocca found it difficult to suppress her emotions in detailing the long road to securing the expansion deal. The tribe has been in negotiation with OLG since 2006. The Chief admitted that the casino had, at times, “gone awry in its growth and we were experiencing some stress and tough times”.
She describes those days as “a ship without a sail”. They were constantly wondering where Great Blue Heron fit into the OLG’s ongoing ‘modernization‘ strategy. Finally, the wait is over.
Competing Among the Best Casinos in Ontario Canada
The Great Blue Heron will never be as vast as Fallsview Casino. It will never be brimming with as many guests as the Casino Niagara hotel. But pound for pound, the impending expansion will finally give the property a chance to compete among the best casinos in Ontario, Canada.
Chief LaRocca believes that, before the year is out, the property will shine brightly among the provincial gaming community. “The Great Blue Heron was a diamond in the rough that’s now been turned into a crown jewel,” she said.
The OGGLP issued a statement confirming that the Great Blue Heron name will remain intact. It is a in the local community and well known throughout the region. The company plans to “work with the community to further revive and strengthen the visual elements of the brand”. They hope to release further details surrounding the proposal in February.