If there’s one thing that we can be sure of as Canadians, it’s that we love to spend a good portion of our free time at various casinos and resorts dotted throughout the nation.

In fact, Canada happens to be one of the largest consumers of casino products in the world, both in terms of online casino gaming and good old fashioned brick and mortar casino visitations.

Canada has a long and winding history of gambling which stretches all the way back to the founding of the nation. French and English trappers and explorers brought with them a number of simple (and not so simple) gambling games, many of which were also introduced to local tribes that they encountered along their travels and explorations.

Of course, like just about any big industry in the world, the casino expansion in Canada contains its own fair share of good, bad and ugly stories and scandals.

We take a closer look at the dynamic nature of the Canadian casino industry, and peak behind the scenes at some of the biggest deals as well as the vision of two of the biggest names in Canadian casino gaming, with a little controversy thrown in for good measure.

The Good Side of Canadian Casino Expansion

It’s probably best to start with something a bit more positive in Canada’s often remarkable casino expansion. The well-known Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is one of Canada’s premier casino brands and one of the largest, with a dozen successful casino destinations already operating in British Columbia and Alberta.

Earlier this month (July 2018), Gateway Casinos held a ground breaking ceremony at 615 Richmond Street, the site for their brand new Chatham casino project and the former home of the old Wheels Inn.

The newest addition to the Gateway Casinos string of popular casinos and entertainment venues has been welcomed by local Chatham residents as the first new build for Ontario promises the creation of at least 200 new jobs for locals.

The new “Cascades Casino” is estimated to cost around $36 million to complete with an overall footprint of around 45,280 sq ft, which should be more than enough to supply Chatham with all the gambling facilities they would need.

This includes no less than 300 new slot machines and around 10 dedicated gaming tables. The Cascades Casino Chatham will also include two of Gateway Casino’s most successful signature restaurant venues, The Buffet and Match Eatery & Public House. The new casino is expected to be completed in mid-2019.

The Maybe Not So Good Side of Canadian Casino Expansion

As the old saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. In other words, “the not so good side” is pretty much inevitable in just about any industry, it does not necessarily mean that the companies involved are inherently “bad”, it just means that a little controversy and hearsay is inevitable.

With that out of the way, we look at another key player in the Canadian casino industry, Great Canadian Gaming. Started in 1982, Great Canadian is one of the largest casino and entertainment entities in Canada, and currently operates over 20 gaming properties around the country, including 13 casinos, 4 horse racing tracks and slot venues, 4 small gaming centres, a string of restaurants, entertainment facilities, and hotels.

To say that Great Canadian Gaming is successful would be quite an understatement. However, they are certainly not strangers to controversy as one or two recent report have revealed.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) recently announced that it had selected Great Canadian Gaming to run several of its casino operations west of Toronto for the next 20 years.

A move which has sparked some debate in the province as Great Canadian Gaming’s flagship casino, River Rock Casino in Richmond B.C, is currently a subject of a money laundering probe.

The controversy unfortunately doesn’t end there for Great Canadian. As part of a consortium along with Clairvest and Brookfield Business, Great Canadian have acquired the right to run OLG’s gaming assets including Blue Heron Casino, Ajax Downs and Woodbine for the next 22 years at what many are calling a ‘more than favourable price’.

OLG have since come out in defence of the controversial sale, amidst plenty of criticism from local officials as well as casino industry experts. Great Canadian however are laughing all the way to the bank, enjoy higher stock prices and significant ROI projections.