Gateway seeks Temporary Home for Sudbury Casino

With lease expiring, Gateway Casino at Sudbury Downs seeks temporary asylum.

With Lease Expiring, Gateway Casino at Sudbury Downs seeks Temporary AsylumGateway Casinos & Entertainment, operator of the slots parlor at Ontario’s Sudbury Downs racetrack in Chelmsford, has found itself in quite a pickle. The company has spent so much time and energy working towards the upcoming Gateway casino project in the Kingsway Entertainment District, they’re now facing the fast-approaching expiration of their lease at the Sudbury casino.

The way things stand now, the Sudbury slot machines will have no home as of April 1, 2020, the day after the current lease expires. Due to a number of stacked delays between the project proposal and construction phase of the KED casino, that property isn’t projected to open until 2022. That’s two years of downtime that Gateway looking for a way to avoid.

Sudbury Casino Debacle 2016-2022

When Gateway won the bid for Ontario’s Northern Bundle in December of 2016, the plan was to have a new casino at The Kingsway completed no later than the end of March 2020, when the lease at the Chelmsford location is up. The machines from Sudbury Downs would be transferred to the new location, with more games added on top – not to mention a hotel tower, arena/events centre, signature restaurants and more.

Thanks to an uphill battle that’s been raging within the community and Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, leading to a legal battle aimed at halting development of the Kingsway Entertainment District, Gateway has seen its project put on the back burner for more than two years. And while that situation stews, the timeline between the closure of one property and the opening of another is drawing farther and farther apart.

Gateway Casino at Sudbury Downs Seeks Temporary Asylum

Gateway is hoping to resolve the impending issue by seeking out a temporary home for its existing casino. Rather than spending two years with no casino gaming in the area – no casino revenue for Gateway, and as a consequence, no host revenue for the municipality – the company is requesting permission, and an adequate facility to relocate to during the two year hiatus.

Staff with the City of Greater Sudbury confirmed on Tuesday that Gateway is seeking temporary asylum for its casino, pending completion of the Kingsway casino project.

“They’re considering all options, including a temporary location,” said CAO Ed Archer.
Councilors are currently debating the issue, with most questions relating to zoning. Councilor Kirwan is particularly concerned that if Gateway is granted its temporary location, it may in fact become a permanent one.

“My understanding is there would be no obligation on it being a temporary site,” said Kirwan.

Archer contends that, “Gateway has confirmed their commitment to building at the Kingsway Entertainment District site.”

But as Kirwin was quick to clarify, “There doesn’t have to be a commitment to it being temporary or permanent…when you’re establishing on that site it could become permanent.”

Project Director David Shelsted spoke plainly of the situation, neither defending or supporting the arguments of either side. He points out that Gateway is a private business faced with unpredictable delays. There’s a perceptible date upon which they can no longer operate at the Chelmsford location, but no discernible schedule for Kingsway – no guarantee that it will even happen, much less whether the new 2022 fingers-crossed-projection will come to fruition.

A CTV report last week indicated that Dario Zulich, developer of KED, may be looking to purchase the Chateau Guay Motel & Restaurant on the Kingsway as a temporary facilitator of the Sudbury casino. Neither Zulich nor Gateway would comment on that scenario.

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