Gateway reveals grand plans for casinos in Northern Ontario.
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is Canada’s largest private gambling company. It is responsible for 27 casinos and gaming facilities across the country. In a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), we learned exactly what the company’s intentions are for the future of those locations. For existing Northern Ontario casinos, it doesn’t appear much is going to change in the foreseeable future.
Back in December of 2016, Gateway signed a 20-year service agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) to take over the day-to-day managerial duties of its northern casino properties. Those properties include the OLG Slots facilities in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay. The group is also tasked with building new casino properties in Kenora and North Bay.
Tepid Future for Casinos in Northern Ontario
Gateway’s SEC filing is offering some interesting prospects for investors. In Northern Ontario, however, the news isn’t all that exciting. There is “very little investment planned” for two of these locations. The third is grouped among the owner’s potentially high-risk acquisitions, where an intended $55.5 million investment may never happen.
As for the two new casino properties, they won’t be especially large facilities. Kenora is looking to get a mini-slots parlour. North Bay residents and visitors can expect a bit more, with around 300 slots machines and few table games in the mix.
Sault Ste Marie Casino
In statements regarding plans for the casino in Sault Ste. Marie, Gateway confirms that the property currently houses 425 slot machines and 11 table games. Situated just minutes from the shores of Lake Superior, the 61,800sf property is a prime location. It offers 51,700sf of gaming space, one restaurant and a casino bar.
The company seems pretty happy with the way things are going. Gateway states that “very little investment” is in this property’s “immediate future”.
The SEC filing reads: “It is expected that this site will be rebranded as a Playtime Casino, a new GMS will be installed and the property will undergo minor renovations.”
Thunder Bay Casino
A very similar situation is brewing in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Gateway’s gaming operations will remain status quo for the most part. This 46,500sf property is home to 450 slot machines and 11 table games, including a pair of poker tables. It also offers patrons a casual restaurant and casino bar.
Again, Gateway foresees “very little investment” in this casino’s “immediate future”.
The SEC filing notes: “It is expected that this site will be rebranded as a Cascades Casino and the property will undergo minor renovations. Future plans may include conversion of the existing F&B outlet to a MATCH.”
Slots at Sudbury Downs
This is where things get sticky, especially in terms of risk factors for investors. The original plan—previously approved by the City Council of Sudbury—was to close down the Slots at Sudbury Downs when the lease expires in 2020. Construction of a new casino on the Kingsway would begin immediately, set to open in 2020 as Kingsway Entertainment District.
Gateway was planning to invest $55.5 million into that project. However, following the city’s green light, some individuals and local groups filed an appeal to challenge the construction of a casino in Greater Sudbury.
Gateway says the appeal, “if successful, would delay the proposed relocation pending further appeals or court challenges.” A decision by the tribunal would not come before September 2019, at the earliest”.
Kenora Slots Facility
Situated on the northern shore of Lake of the Woods, on the border of Manitoba in Northwest Ontario, Kenora has its appeal, attracting an estimated 700,000 visitors annually. And since there’s no other gambling entertainment nearby, a small slots parlor could be a perfect addition.
Gateway says it plans, “to build a new 19,000 square foot Playtime Casino in the Kenora area (Playtime Casino Kenora), with 6,200 square feet of gaming space, including 200 slot machines.”
The $21 million slot parlour, scheduled to open in January 2020, will include a MATCH eatery overlooking the gaming floor.
North Bay Casino
Last but not least, many residents of North Bay are looking forward to a full-scale casino, albeit on the smaller end of the scales. Located on Lake Nipissing, 330km north of Toronto and 125km east of the proposed casino (that may or may not happen) in Greater Sudbury, Gateway has high hopes for this property.
They’re planning to invest $31.3 million into its construction, creating a 14,100sf gaming floor with 300 slot machines and 10 tables games. Due for completion in early 2020, it would also include Gateway’s signature MATCH and The Buffet dining options.
It would seem that, despite setbacks, unforeseen roadblocks, and a disinterest in enhancing the properties in Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay, Gateway will live up to last year’s promise to invest “more than $100 million to revitalize and enhance the gaming and entertainment landscape” across its casinos in Northern Ontario.