Gateway Casinos’ expansion deal a boost for Ontario’s horse racing industry

November 14, 2022 6:42 PM

Gateway Casinos’ expansion deal a boost for Ontario’s horse racing industry

Photo: Gateway Casinos and Entertainment (courtesy)/Rendering of original Starlight Casino proposal in London, Ontario
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
November 14, 2022 6:42 PM

The decision by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. to expand its existing location at Western Fair District in London, Ont., is seen as a boon for the province’s horse racing industry.

The casino operator originally had planned to build a new $75 million Starlight Casino elsewhere in London – a 107,000-square-foot casino with 900 slot machines and 40 gaming tables. According to media reports it was expected to generate $4.5 million in gaming revenue for the city. But Gateway opted instead to stay put and extend its lease.

That deal supports live harness racing at the venue, an 85-acre year-round London landmark that’s been around since 1961. The Raceway at Western Fair District is one of the highest wagering harness tracks in Ontario.

The impact of the pandemic on casinos in terms of operations and new project development was widespread, and in the case of Gateway’s plans delayed construction on the new project.

“We are currently working on our future development plans for Gateway Casinos London that will see us expand our existing footprint to allow for the addition of our award-winning signature Gateway food and beverage brands and improved gaming experiences,” said Grant Darling, senior vice president of operations, Gateway Casinos Ontario.  “We will also reflag the property with one of Gateway’s proprietary casino brands. We look forward to sharing more exciting details about these plans in the coming months.

“In the meantime, we continue to appreciate the ongoing co-operation and partnership of Western Fair with our current operations and the planning efforts for our future expansion at the Fairgrounds.”

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment operates 28 gaming properties in British Columbia and Ontario with two additional properties in Edmonton, Alberta. It employs approximately 7,000 people with 339 table games, 14,031 slots, 94 food and beverage outlets and 561 hotel rooms.

Gateway spokesman Rob Mitchell told CDC Gaming Reports they can’t reveal details of the proposed renovations to the Western Fair District site at the present time. That information will be released “in the coming months”.

“Gateway is extremely pleased to have reached a new long-term lease agreement with the London Fair District,” he said. “We believe our decision to stay at the Fair District location will provide long-term benefit to all the parties involved including the City of London, the Fair, the East Village and Gateway.”