Hard Rock Casino Ottawa is coming to the capital.
The international entertainment chain announced Monday that it’s partnering with the Rideau Carleton Raceway to revamp the horse track and gaming complex in Ottawa’s rural south.
The companies said they could drop up to $320 million on a major redevelopment of the raceway property after winning a contract from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to run the gambling operation at the horse track.
Osgoode Coun. George Darouze, who represents the area of the raceway, said the development is good news for his communities because the revamped complex will be a major job creator.
“Hopefully it’s a going to balance the employment in the city,” Darouze said.
“People in Greely and Findlay Creek, they don’t have to drive downtown to find jobs.”
The companies say the redevelopment of the property will create 1,900 construction jobs and 2,000 direct and indirect ongoing jobs.
There will be a phased construction, which will include a Hard Rock-branded hotel and entertainment venue, plus a Hard Rock Cafe and Centre Bar and rock shop. There will be more than 13,000 square metres of gaming space.
The announcement was a long time coming, but where the new casino would be built was no surprise.
In 2013, city council declared the Rideau Carleton Raceway as the only acceptable location for an expanded gaming operation. The OLG has been working on a “modernization” plan for the gaming operations at the horse track since 2012.
Gamblers will have to temper their expectations for a Las Vegas-style gaming venue, though.
The city wants no more than 21 table games added to the 1,250 slot machines.
Government-endorsed gambling has been among the most contentious files in Mayor Jim Watson’s tenure at City Hall.
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk desperately wanted a $500-million casino development for his Kanata arena property, arguing that he needed the development to financially stabilize his organization. Council backed the horse track as the only location for a casino and a furious Melnyk bemoaned having to come up with another plan.
(Melnyk’s Senators-led consortium would eventually win the right to negotiate a deal for the LeBreton Flats development with the National Capital Commission, with the intention of moving the NHL team downtown.)
At the same time, the OLG has always had big aspirations for gambling in the nation’s capital, especially since the Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau is sucking gaming money from Ontario gamblers.
The OLG believed that the Ottawa-area gaming market was big enough to support up to 2,000 slot machines and about 100 new gaming tables at a casino.
But in 2011 council approved the addition of only 21 gaming tables at the OLG’s Ottawa facility, after intense pressure from health advocates to be mindful of gambling addictions in this region.
Still, a major overhaul of the horse track and gaming operations could provide a big boost for City Hall if more gamblers flock to the Albion Road facility.
The city gets a cut from OLG gaming revenue for hosting a gambling facility. The city is budgeting to receive $5.6 million in 2017.
Article written by John Willing on the Ottawa Sun Website. Follow the link here.