New gaming deal could give Ontario natives CAD 2.5-billion

Toronto – Ontario’s aboriginal communities could get CAD 2.5-billion over the next 20 years under a new proposed deal to share revenue from provincial lotteries and casinos.

Provincial negotiators say the deal – if it’s ratified by Ontario chiefs on June 18 – would be the first agreement of its kind in Canada since it gives 133 aboriginal communities a cut of the province’s gaming revenue.

The deal would also give First Nations representation on the board of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., giving them a say in how the organization is run.

“This is a huge deal,” said David Peterson, the province’s chief negotiator and former Ontario Liberal premier.

“It’s a big, big pile of money. It’s a flow of money into these communities the likes of which they haven’t had. It’s stable. They can count on it for education, for water, for all the things that are so important in the communities.”

Under the current deal which expires in 2011, some aboriginal communities get just a cut of the revenue generated by Casino Rama near Orillia, Ont., which works out to an average of CAD 60-million a year.

Under the proposed agreement, the 133 aboriginal communities would get a cut of all the provincial cash that comes from gaming, essentially doubling their annual revenue share to about CAD 125-million.

Communities would get CAD 112-million immediately upon signing the deal.

“This is groundbreaking,” said Mr. Peterson, who has been negotiating the deal since February 2005. “It is a brand new partnership with the aboriginal communities. … I think the rest of the country can look at this and say this is something we can be very proud of.”