Wasaga Beach’s New Ontario Casino Exceeds Opening Expectations

Written By Jose Colorado on December 7, 2022
new wasaga beach casino exceeds opening expectations

Wasaga Beach’s new casino is off to a blistering start.

The newest Ontario casino celebrated its soft opening on Nov.23. And, according to Gateway Casinos & Entertainment — the casino’s operator — Playtime Casino Wasaga Beach has exceeded expectations early on.

The 25-000-square-foot-casino (located at 88 Lyon’s Court)cost $34.3 million to build and features 231 slots and 18 electronic table games. In total, Gateway expects the business to create 140 new jobs in the community. However, specific financial numbers won’t be available until the end of the fiscal quarter (mid-January).

Regardless, a grand opening celebration will follow early in the New Year.

Until then, Rob Mitchell, Gateway’s director of communications, and his team are celebrating the hot start.

“Since our soft opening on November 23 visitation has exceeded all expectations. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive. Our staff has noted we are attracting visitors from surrounding communities such [as] Alliston, Collingwood, Creemore, Stayner, Angus, Thornbury and even Mississauga and Toronto.”

Casino Wasaga Beach features more than 200 slots

According to its official website, Wasaga Beach has over 23,000 full-time residents. But don’t let those numbers fool you. The town is home to the world’s longest freshwater beach – making it a top tourist destination.

To that end, a casino would fit in with transient traffic and disposable income flowing through the area.

Gateway, unsurprisingly, has put its best foot forward given the potential goldmine.

The casino’s main features:

  • 25,000 square feet
  • 231 slot machines (e.g., Wheel of Fortune, 88 Fortunes, Super Buffalo, Quick Hits, Lightning Link, Willy Wonka)
  • 18 E-Tables video gaming options (e.g., blackjack, roulette, baccarat, war)
  • Outdoor patio
  • Gateway’s signature brand restaurant, MATCH Eatery & Public House (rooftop available)
  • Arcade Bar on the gaming floor
  • Promotions and events
  • Facial recognition surveillance

Wasaga Beach casino creates 140 new jobs

Of course, whenever a casino appears, the main concern will always be how the site will economically benefit the local community.

Property tax, development fees and job creation are three benefits that Wasaga Beach can expect.

According to Gateway, the new establishment will create 140 new jobs. Of those 140, approximately 90% will go to locals from the surrounding area(s).

First host payment from OLG expected in mid-January

However, the big fish will always be the share of the casino revenue itself.

Unfortunately, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation spokesperson Tony Bitonti commented the crown corporation doesn’t publicly provide revenue estimates. That includes new gaming sites being built or proposed in the province.

Instead, Bitonti points to the Municipality Contribution Agreement. Under the MCA, communities hosting casinos – such as Wasaga – receive a financial kickback every fiscal quarter from OLG.

In Wasaga’s case, the next payment is still a few months away.

“Wasaga Beach will receive its first Municipal Contribution Agreement (MCA) payment in mid-January. That payment is based on when the gaming operations began at Playtime Casino Wasaga which in this case was Nov.23.”

Wasaga Beach to receive slots revenue

Zooming in a bit closer, OLG comments all host communities receive a share of revenues “under an equitable formula” universally applied across the province.

OLG calculates the payments based on a graduated scale, considering slot machine revenues and (when applicable) a share of table game revenues.

In Wasaga’s case, both e-tables and slot machines are available on-site. However, OLG defines e-tables as electronic games. As such, they share a category with slots.

For now, the location does not have any live table games.

With that in mind, here’s the revenue share Casino Wasaga Beach can bank on:

  • 5.25% of the first $65 million of slot revenue;
  • 3.0% on the next $135 million of slot revenue;
  • 2.5% of the next $300 million of slot revenue;
  • 0.5% on the slot revenue above $500 million

Responsible Gambling a priority at Wasaga Beach

Visitors and locals will feel OLG’s presence in other ways, too. Namely in the casino’s responsible gambling strategy.

PlaySmart – OLG’s overarching responsible gambling portfolio – will be integrated into Casino Wasaga Beach’s RG philosophy. OLG states PlaySmart is the country’s leading responsible gambling tool, enabling a lifetime of sustainable play.

In addition to PlaySmart, the Responsible Gambling Council will lend a helping hand. Wasaga Beach will have RGC service coordinators on-hand 15 hours each week, providing information and support resources. Coordinators can also answer players’ questions when needed.

All Gateway properties (BC and Ontario) hold RG check accreditation.

Events underway at Playtime Casino Wasaga Beach

Currently, Casino Wasaga has a trio of events on the go:

  • Enjoy & Give Back (Now until Dec.30)
  • Countdown to the Holidays (Dec. 1 – Dec.20)
  • NYE Draws (Dec. 31 – Jan. 1)

Looking to get into the holiday spirit? ‘Enjoy & Give back’ may be for you. From now until Dec.30, the casino is donating a portion of food & beverage sales to the Wasaga Beach Ministerial Food Bank.

Meanwhile, Countdown to the Holidays is giving out 20 prizes in 20 days (from Dec.1 – 20). Over $10,000 is up for grabs, with daily draws happening at 7 pm. To be eligible, players must submit an entry ticket.

Finally, ringing in the New Year is a $2023 draw that will happen at 12:15 am on Jan.1, 2023. Leading up to the big giveaway, hourly $100 draws will occur between 6 and 11 pm on Dec.31. Winners must be on-site to claim a prize.

Wasaga Beach Casino 10 years in the making

Altogether, Casino Wasaga Beach is ten years in the making. In late May of 2012, OLG announced its intention to expand across the province with five new gaming facilities.

Nominations in Zone C7 — which includes Wasaga Beach —  included:

  • Clearview Township
  • The Town of Collingwood
  • Springwater Township

In March 2018, OLG selected Gateway as the operator. Wasaga Beach won the location seven months later in Oct.

Construction began in the fall of 2021, with the establishment opening up roughly a year later.

It’s been a whirlwind ride, but Mitchell said there are still more surprises in store.

“We expect to have a grand opening early in the New Year with both the new Mayor and previous Mayor in attendance and all the councillors involved in helping us to successfully locate in Wasaga Beach.”

Gateway Casinos continues Canadian surge

Over the past few years, Gateway’s name has become synonymous with land-based gambling in Canada.

Consider the operator has 28 gaming properties scattered across British Columbia and Ontario. Two more are in Edmonton, Alta.

Across Canada, Gateway employs roughly 7,000 people and features 339 table games (including 30 poker tables). Alongside that, the operator has over 14,031 slots and 561 hotel rooms.

In 2022, the operator celebrated 30 years in Canada’s gaming and entertainment business. 

Photo by Shutterstock
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Jose Colorado

Jose Colorado is a British Columbia-based writer. He lives in Burnaby and loves sports, anime, writing, business and the occasional walk on the beach.

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