After Lengthy Delays, Construction Begins On Ottawa’s Hard Rock Casino

Written By Matthew Lomon on June 8, 2023
Parliament Hill

After years of delays, the iconic Hard Rock brand is finally starting to take shape in Ottawa.

On June 6, a ground-breaking ceremony was held at the Rideau Carleton Casino, the future home of the highly anticipated Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. There, project developers, equipped with guitar-handled shovels, announced that construction on the state-of-the-art Ontario casino is officially underway.

“It’s finally happening,” said Helen MacMillan, general manager of Rideau Carleton Casino, Future Hard Rock. “After experiencing delays due to the pandemic, we are extremely excited to be making concrete progress on our plans to bring this amazing facility to life for our guests and team members, and for Ottawa’s residents and visitors!”

Currently, Spring 2025 is the target date for the latest innovation in Canadian casinos to begin operations. Until then, Rideau Carleton Casino will remain open during the construction of the Hard Rock facility.

Construction project seen as economic driver for Ottawa

Rideau Carleton’s track record of success made the site a logical partner for Hard Rock when the sides joined forces back in May 2017. Since opening its gaming site in 2000, the incumbent is responsible for providing the city with $6 million annually, along with over $93 million in payments for being an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation host site.

Unsurprisingly, the city expects this number to rise once the new, cutting-edge location is fully operational.

In the meantime, the $350 million development project will produce about 1,900 employment opportunities, per Hard Rock sources. This number includes both direct and indirect construction work, as well as ongoing job prospects within the city.

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said the city will be a significant beneficiary of the redevelopment project.

“The new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino represents a significant investment in the south end of our city. It will create new jobs and will build on the existing attraction at Rideau Carleton Casino,” said Sutcliffe. “I know many residents of the city are looking forward to enjoying this space and it will also be another great addition as a tourist attraction in Ottawa.”

Officials also expect the facility to generate significant tax revenues for the municipal, provincial, and federal governments once functional.

Hard Rock site brings new attractions, while keeping old traditions alive

Originally known as Rideau Carleton Raceway, the home of Canada’s first-ever five-eighths mile oval, harness racing has been synonymous with the Rideau brand since 1962.

Luckily, for fans of the sport, that tradition will not change in the Hard Rock-era. Most of what’s to come centres around improved amenities and greater gaming options.

Upon opening, visitors to Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will have access to a 150-room hotel, including 22 suites, along with the 1,800-seat “Hard Rock Live” theatre, with standing room for 2,200.

In true Hard Rock fashion, the entertainment experience wouldn’t be complete without some rockin’ food. Headlined by the award-winning Hard Rock Cafe, the new venue will house more than 10 restaurants, bars, and lounges, including Council Oak Steakhouse.

Lastly, its gaming catalogue will also grow, as part of an expanded casino, featuring:

  • 1,500 slot machines
  • 40 live-action tables
  • An Ontario sportsbook
  • High-limit gaming; and
  • Baccarat room

Oh, and don’t worry, Hard Rock memorabilia will be widely available, too.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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