For immediate release
June 16, 2017
The Kingsway Casino - What’s the Real Deal?
Greater Sudbury’s slot facility has been housed at Sudbury Downs since 1999. Recently, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment announced that a Letter of Intent had been signed to build a new casino on the Kingsway. The comments below are offered in response to Gateway’s recent announcement.
Let’s Get Real
Letter of Intent
The Gateway announcement presents few, if any, details respecting the Letter of Intent executed between the parties. Are there conditions attached to the Letter of Intent, is it binding, what is the reality of Gateway’s commitment to the site? In fact, after Tuesday’s initial announcement, Gateway clarified that it is keeping its options open and that the casino could remain at Sudbury Downs, or move to a location other than the Kingsway. So clearly, despite the misleading impression of the Gateway/Zulich initial announcement, there is, in fact, no binding Gateway commitment to the Zulich site.
The report states that 250 new jobs will be created at the casino. The facts are that there are currently 406 slot machines at the Sudbury Downs site and a total of 200 employees working there. The OLG has stated that any casino in Sudbury would be subject to a maximum of 600 slot machines and possibly a few table games. Slot machines are extremely efficient with respect to the amount of service and support labour they require so how does a 50% increase in the number of slot machines require a 100% increase in employees?
Gateway also indicates that 700 person-years of construction work will be created with the project. There is no doubt that any proposed new casino project will create new construction jobs. However, 700 person-years, or 350 full time people dedicated to a single project for two straight years, is an astonishingly huge construction force for a relatively small, locals oriented $60 million casino. Is this realistic?
Beyond construction, the Kingsway project anticipates the creation of over 1,000 jobs. However, how many of these jobs will be new, or simply a transfer of workers from the current casino and the current arena? How does this translate into the creation of a “new industry” ... Sudbury already has an operating arena and an operating casino. How many truly new jobs will be created?
Sudbury’s Casino Cannot be “Bigger than Casino Rama”
We cannot be “bigger than Casino Rama”.
Sudbury has been approved for 600 slot machines - Rama has 2,500 slot machines.
Gateway estimates a total of 400 jobs - Rama employs over 2,500 people.
The total population of all of Northern Ontario is less than 1 million - there are several million people within a 1 hour drive of Rama.
Municipal Approval Required
The location of the new casino is subject to municipal approval. The privilege, and burden, of ultimately deciding where the casino locates belongs to Mayor Bigger and our 12 City Councilors. Since 2012 the potential relocation of the Sudbury casino from our site at Sudbury Downs to a location closer to the people, has been a contentious issue. A new casino closer to the bulk of the local population is estimated to generate an additional $30 million of net win annually - that is $30 million more, each year, leaving our community.
Mayor Bigger and our local Councilors will indeed be faced with an historic decision regarding making the casino more accessible and convenient for local residents to visit more frequently. Can our local businesses and local economy afford the losses that will result?