City council will get the final say on whether London should roll the dice on a full-service casino, so one local politician has already started a dialogue with his constituents.
Days after the announcement that Gateway Casinos & Entertainment would be investing $200 million in Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) properties across southwestern Ontario — including the current slot and racetrack complex in London — Ward 4 councillor Jesse Helmer created an online feedback forum about the project.
Helmer, whose ward includes the site, launched the web page to get feedback not just from his own ward residents, but all Londoners.
The deal could mean an expansion of the facility into one that houses table games, restaurants, a hotel, and non-gaming entertainment venues, though the specific proposal has yet to be outlined. Gateway has said it would like to make London its Ontario headquarters, bringing as many as 1,000 jobs with it.
“We are planning a major gaming and entertainment casino property in London,” senior vice-president of marketing and communications Carrie Kormos told AM980. “However, we are still working on our plans and it is important to be respectful of the approval process that we have with our OLG partners, with government and with other folks.”
The first few comments on Helmer’s page were mixed.
“Support. There are a ton of people who are traveling elsewhere to find real table games. Having them stay in town will allow the money to go to our city’s coffers,” wrote Ryan Stubbs.
“I’d prefer that there was not a casino in the neighbourhood, I don’t think they provide a lot of positive value to society. I don’t think we have a lot of choice in this matter though,” said Michael McAlpine.
Noah Stewart posed some questions about the project rather than stating support or opposition, asking about the revenue model for the city and responsible gaming oversight by the OLG.
Helmer said there were many early questions regarding what will happen with casino proceeds.
Gateway signed a 20-year casino operation and services agreement with the OLG and has purchased the business and assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle, effective Tuesday.
The bundle includes a casino in Point Edward, and slots in Woodstock, London, Clinton, Dresden and Hanover.