Local news sources in Ontario have recently revealed that Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd has halted plans to move forward with the $75 million casino development, which was going to be built on Wonderland Road in London, Ontario.
Although it is yet to be fully confirmed, it is believed that the Gateway group will instead opt to make a massive multimillion-dollar investment in the expansion of current operations at Western Fair instead. As it stands, these rumors are yet to be confirmed, and Walt Spivak, the owner of the property leased by the game company, has stated that he is yet to be informed about any of the corporation’s supposed change of plans. With this in mind, it is understood that the Gateway group would reconsider its strategy to invest in the London site.
The Gateway Group’s Initial Plan
Back in December 2018, the Gateway group announced plans for a new casino on Wonderland Road South. This was a result of the company failing to secure the desired deal on its lease at the Western Fair District.
In mid-2019, the company declared its intention to build the Starlight Casino on Wonderland Road. This was expected to be a 10,000-square-metre casino project featuring 900 slot machines and 40 gaming tables. Moreover, it was predicted that the Wonderland Road development would generate $4.5 million in gaming revenue for the city and create around 1,000 jobs.
In January 2020, construction crews began clearing the site in preparation for the development, but within a matter of a month, COVID-19 hit and put a stop to the $75 million project. Despite the delays experienced as a result of the pandemic, it was expected that the company would recommence construction when businesses reopened.
However, as it stands, despite the fact that construction materials remain at the Wonderland Road site, construction has not recommenced, and it remains to be seen whether the company will continue with their original plan.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s Gambling Sector
Despite the fact that the online gambling industry thrived on a global scale during the COVID19 pandemic, the story was very different for traditional casinos, which suffered as a result of lockdowns. This was evident across Canada, where many casinos saw the number of visitors decrease considerably over the last two years while other ceased to exist completely.
According to a recent report published by the Responsible Gambling Council, several gamblers opted to play at online casinos, owing to the pandemic. This, in turn, has extended to Ontarian players, who chose such operators over the traditional casino resorts. What’s more, this trend continues to this present day, despite the fact restrictions have been lifted.
Convenience is certainly a main factor in customers’ decisions. That, coupled with the sheer variety of reputable affiliates and big names like NoDeposit365.ca, certainly had an impact on brick-and-mortar casinos, who are still hoping to experience a rebound in the coming months.
Response To Rumors
In response to these allegations, Gateway Casino and Entertainment spokesperson Rob Mitchell refused to explicitly comment on the organization’s future plans for the Wonderland Road casino. However, he stated in an email to local media that Gateway’s current focus across their sites was on improving customer engagement and finding ways to recover business lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, Josh Morgan, the Deputy Mayor of London who sits on the Western Fair board, declined to verify or deny the rumors, as did all of the other members of the board.
When asked for his take on the situation, the Chief Executive of the Canadian Gaming Association, Paul Burns, focused on the ways the COVID-19 pandemic had forced casino operators to rethink their operations and plans for future growth. While he made no direct comment in reference to the Gateway group, Burns did acknowledge that a large number of casinos were busy evaluating their business plans in light of the impact COVID-19 had had upon their financial standing.
What Does The Future Hold For The Gateway Group?
It is evident that while COVID-19 forced businesses to diversify and think on their feet, it was not an easy exercise for all enterprises. While dynamic online companies managed to thrive during this challenging period, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses such as land-based casinos felt the hit and, like the Gateway group, were forced to rethink operations. While online gambling may be booming, land-based operations are yet to rebound fully.
At present, we have no concrete evidence as to whether the Wonderland Road casino development has been scrapped, but it certainly looks like the Gateway group is taking their time and reevaluating its investment streams for the future. So it really is a case of keeping your eyes peeled for the latest updates on this front!