Photo of Western Fair District Slots courtesy of Jake MacDonald, Western Fair District, Photographer.

New Operator Plans Gaming Expansion

From slots to potentially a full casino, the new operators of the slots at Western Fair District have some big plans in mind to enhance the gaming and entertainment landscape in the city.

Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited, a British Columbia-based company, assumed control of the day-to-day operations of the slots in London, Woodstock, Clinton, Dresden, and Hanover, as well as the casino in Point Edward on Tuesday.

“Subject to the appropriate approvals and consultation with community leaders, we have plans for a really exciting gaming and entertainment property in London,” said Carrie Kormos, senior vice-president of marketing and communications at Gateway. “When fully developed [the property in London] would see almost 1,000 people from the community working there.”

Currently, roughly 300 people are employed at the slots at Western Fair District.

Gateway agreed on the 20-year deal with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), in December. In addition to day-to-day operations, the company will be responsible for rebranding and staffing at the facilities.

In assuming the operations on Tuesday, Gateway officials announced plans to invest a combined $200-million in the six southwestern Ontario properties.

“[London] is going to be a significant investment. It will be our largest development in Ontario, in terms of our two gaming bundles that we have right now. It will be significant not only in capital but also in jobs,” said Kormos.

A clearer picture of what Londoners can expect to see at the city’s slots is expected next month.

“We understand that to be successful as well as to be a good corporate neighbour, you need to offer a variety of entertainment experiences,” said Kormos. “For those who want to come, gamble and have a good time on the gaming floor, we are going to have new games and make sure it’s a top notch experience. But for those who might not be interested in that, we have a very strong track record and a proven formula out in Western Canada to create great brands, great restaurants for a place that allows people to come have a nice night out of entertainment, dining, and if they choose to gamble that’s great but if it’s not their thing that’s fine too.”

London will also be home to Gateway’s provincial headquarters. The private company, which began in Vancouver, BC in 1992, operates 23 gaming properties and has 5,200 employees. With business partners, Gateway operates 54 restaurants and 272 hotel rooms across Canada.

Later this month, Gateway will also assume operations in northern Ontario of the slots at Sudbury Downs and casinos in Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie with plans in the works to build new gaming centres in Kenora and North Bay.

London will continue to receive a percentage of the gaming revenue generated at the slots at Western Fair District.