Will Wasaga Beach hit the jackpot with new casino?

Saturday 21st December 2019

It appeared that all bets were off when it came to the location and timing of Wasaga Beach's casino.

While the community appears to have welcomed the idea of a gaming facility, the location of where Gateway Casino and Entertainment's Wasaga Beach casino caused some consternation for some in the local business community.

While the casino is expected to pay off regardless for the town, through a take of the gaming revenue, some had suggested the biggest bang for the community's buck would be to locate the casino in the town-owned commercial lands on the beachfront.

Under former mayor Brian Smith, municipal officials had proposed a number of possible incentives to the company worth approximately $26 million to $39 million as an enticement to build overlooking Beach Area One.

After the new council rescinded that offer, Gateway announced the casino would go to the town's west end -- in spite of a lobbying effort by some residents and businesses to locate in the east end where it could be an additional draw to the main beach area.

What followed was several months of discussions between the land owner, DAS Development, and the town's planning and building staff on a site plan amendment application, that also involved the need for more study of the casino's impact on traffic.

In October, the town announced DAS and Gateway had fulfilled the municipality's requirements, and all Gateway needed to do was pick up its building permit. However, Gateway said its management would be taking the winter to map out the company's priorities for 2020 -- including where it stood on the timing of construction of the Wasaga Beach site.

Company spokesperson Robert Mitchell said Gateway had been focused on several other properties it had acquired in Ontario over the previous three years as it was awarding 'gaming bundle' regions by OLG as part of the crown corporation's 'modernization' of the gambling regime in Ontario.

The company's business plan for the Wasaga site was approved by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation in July.

The Wasaga facility will be branded by Gateway as a 'Cascades' facility. It is expected to feature 300 slots, 10 table games, and two restaurants.

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