Canadian Gambling Takes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back (As Always)

Posted by: on Sep 2, 2016 | No Comments


Gateway Casinos and Entertainment has finally opened the doors to the Grand Villa Casino in Edmonton. This lavish gambling and entertainment destination cost $32 million to build and boasts of 600 slot machines, 28 table games, central bar, restaurant, pub and fast food restaurants spread over 11,600-square-meters. The site has been leased from the Ice District in Edmonton, Alberta, which is a mixed-use sports and entertainment district being developed in the heart of Edmonton as an entertainment and city center.

The project is expected to generate a payroll of $4 million annually, employ more than 600 people, this is in addition to the 500 odd jobs it created in the community during construction. Earlier, the casino operated out of the old building that housed the Baccarat Casino in 104 Avenue. Gateway Casinos and Entertainment has 18 gaming properties in Canada which house 36 restaurants, over 1000 hotel rooms, 200 gaming tables and more than 6000 slot machines besides employing 4000 people. The hundreds of people who lined up outside the new casino on opening night was a positive sight in the current Canadian gambling scenario.

Regional Factors Compound Sluggishness

Canada has a liberal party in the majority as of now and the industry which has been facing tough times with a sluggish national economic recovery since the last recession has reduced spending in casinos. Given the way the land lies in Canada, casinos are also dependent on large local populations and regional loyalty governs footfalls in casinos. Even international tourists end up staying in the neighborhood of the casino and this has a residual side effect on other casinos operating in Canada.

A look at the highest provincial earnings from the casino industry in Canada will find that top three provinces are also the top three most populated places in Canada. Ontario was the highest but it also has 40.3% of all Canadian casinos located here. Next is Quebec with 20.3% of industry establishments and British Colombia with 16.5%. Predictably, there is scant space for footholds in the Canadian casino industry when new casinos coming up on the US side of the border can significantly affect revenues in Canadian casinos.

Liberal Hopes On The Horizon

If there is a silver lining, it is the coming into power of the liberal party in Canadian politics. While the National Liberal Party has yet to perform any overt actions that can be seen as favorable, there have been numerous little indicators of how the ruling liberal party relates to the casino industry. Ontario is the highest in casino revenues as it was among the first Canadian provinces to open casinos. The liberal government in Ontario has mentored the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation as they move into the online gambling market.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is just the corporate brand for the Government of Ontario’s leading gaming services organization since 1975. The corporation has just expanded to include online lottery tickets, sports betting and online real money games.

In British Colombia, the government’s deficit of $1.8 billion has forced a rethink on their erstwhile reluctance on allowing casinos back in 2001. This is a complete U-turn where the government has officially declared their intention to target $1.1 billion in earnings in 2017 from not just casinos but racetracks and online lottery and gaming options. Recently, Alberta has jumped on the gaming bandwagon and announced their efforts behind an online gaming site to be operated by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). As evidenced in the opening of the Gateway Casino in Edmonton.

For an insight into the hiccups created by the government, check out Part II of this next article.

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