Ontario: Wasaga Beach ramps up for official launch of new casino

January 8, 2023 10:00 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
January 8, 2023 10:00 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

Ontario’s newest casino is getting closer to its grand opening.

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Playtime Casino Wasaga Beach, operated by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, had a soft opening back on Nov. 23, which the company says has exceeded expectations. That response isn’t surprising, since people have been starving for live-entertainment experiences after over two years of pandemic restrictions. Ontario’s casinos took it especially hard.

“We haven’t landed on a date for the grand opening of Playtime Wasaga Beach. It will likely be timed to coincide with the first MCA cheque to the Town of Wasaga Beach [Jan. 20] from OLG,” said Robert Mitchell, director, communications and public affairs at Gateway.

The “MCA,” or Municipality Contribution Agreement, is the money the host community, in this case Wasaga, receives every fiscal quarter from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson with OLG, says Wasaga Beach is the seventh new casino built in Ontario since 2017. There’s also another planned development and expansions of existing casino properties. Service providers have invested an estimated $1.8 billion in private-sector capital across the province.

With the MCA, all Ontario gaming-site host communities receive a share of revenues under an equitable formula that is the same across the province. The payments are based on a graduated scale of slot-machine revenues, plus a share of table-game revenues for those sites that offer table games.

Under the agreement, municipalities or communities receive:

  • 5.25% on the first $65 million of slot revenue;
  • 3.0% on the next $135 million of slot revenue;
  • 2.5% on the next $300 million of slot revenue;
  • 0.5% on the slot revenue above $500 million; and
  • 4.0% of table game revenue (if applicable).

The first MCA payment to Wasaga Beach will be based on revenues from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, the end of the quarter.

Bitonti couldn’t say how much that first payment will be, but for context, the casino in North Bay, which opened in March 2021, received $111,134 after being open for 23 days. North Bay has 300 slots and six live table games. Wasaga Beach has 250 slots, plus electronic table games.

The $34.3 million project, covering 25,000 square feet, will create 140 new jobs in Wasaga Beach.

Mitchell says visitation to the new site has been “strong and consistent” since the Nov. 23 soft launch, with live entertainment on the weekends proving popular in the Match Eatery & Public House restaurant, as well  as live sports with hockey, basketball, World Cup, and NFL games.

“Patrons have been very generous in their praise of the facility and the service from staff, most of whom are new employees from the local community,” he said.

The grand opening will include local dignitaries from the Town of Wasaga, current Mayor Brian Smith and Council, past Mayor Nina Bifolchi and previous Council, senior staff from the town, local chamber of commerce,  Simcoe Grey MPP, Brian Saunderson, executives from OLG and the senior leadership team at Gateway Casinos and media.

There will be live entertainment, complimentary food and beverage, and the cheque presentation on behalf of OLG.

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is one of the largest gaming and entertainment companies in Canada, with 28 gaming properties in B.C. and Ontario, and two additional properties in Edmonton, Alberta. The company employs around 7,000 people and has 339 table games (including 30 poker tables), 14,031 slot, 94 food and beverage outlets, and 561 hotel rooms.