In an online letter published on social media, Oneida Nation of the Thames announced that it will not be pursuing the project to launch a casino and destination resort south of London, Ontario. In the statement, Chief Todd Cornelus elaborated that after thorough consideration, the First Nation decided that such a project would not be a great fit for its community.
Back in 2019, the elected chief and council received an offer from an independent enterprise for the development of such a casino and resort site. The Chief and council of the time were willing to engage in discussions to explore the potential plan. However, now the tribe has opted against such a destination which would have been located south of London.
Oneida Will Not Pursue Plans
In the social media statement, Mr. Cornelus commented that after much due diligence, the tribe came to the conclusion that such a project would not be a good fit for its community. He explained that the Nation’s review, considered the safety of the community, liability to the tribe, and financial feasibility. Thus, deciding against the project.
Back in 2021, reports emerged claiming that Oneida’s leaders were exploring partnering with MJM Enterprises Development from Detroit, U.S. to develop the resort. At the time, then Chief Adrian Chrisjohn stated that the project would help provide improved emergency response, health care, and housing opportunities, along with a supply of safe drinking water.
In addition to that, also in 2021, a representative of MJM Enterprises Development, Mike Malik, shared that the company would be interested in such a project and that the site located between Highway 402 and Highway 401 had tremendous potential. However, it seems that the tribe has decided that the gambling resort would not be in the best interest of its community.
Operator Disapproved the Casino Development
However, it should be mentioned that Oneida Nation of the Thames’ plans for a casino south of London did not receive great receptions at the start. Back in 2020, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, which currently operates 14 gaming resorts across the province, spoke against a potential casino complex in the said area, due to having exclusivity rights in the region.
Back then Rob Mitchell, spokesperson for the leading brick-and-mortar gambling operator discussed how another casino venue would not have a place in the local market. This is due to the fact that the London region, as well as the entire Southwestern Ontario, is an area where the casino operator has exclusive rights when it comes to running gambling establishments.
But in response to that, the Chief for Oneida at the time, Jessica Hill stated that Gateway Casinos had its own stance on the topic. She explained the tribal nation was seeking ways in which it could support its people and establish new businesses in the region. It was also noted that members of the community have already expressed their opposition to the project.
Source: Varley, Kristylee “No casino and resort coming to Oneida Nation of the Thames” CTV News London, August 12, 2023