Caesars May Lose Windsor Casino License After 30 Years Of Operation

Written By Matthew Lomon on January 15, 2024
Photo of Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. Caesars may lose the Windsor casino license after 30 years of operation

The Globe and Mail is reporting three casino companies are on the shortlist to manage the Windsor casino that has long been Caesars Windsor.

Bally’s Corp and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment join the incumbent Caesars Entertainment in the race to secure the operating license for the longest-standing Ontario casino.

This marks the first time in the property’s 30-year history that its license is open to outside bidders. Since 1994, the facility’s slot machines and blackjack tables have exclusively featured Caesars signage.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which owns the site, is reportedly in the final stage of reviewing proposals. According to the Globe and Mail, the provincial gambling agency is expected to announce the new license holder by this fall. Should a bidder other than Caesars secure operating rights, it will take over in 2025.

Windsor has considerable loyalty to Caesars

The OLG’s decision, however, is not one that the city of Windsor and its people will take lightly. Several high-ranking community members made that clear when expressing their allegiance to Caesars.

“Back in the day, Windsor had its identity as an automobile city tattooed on both arms,” said Chris Vander Doelen, a former Windsor Star journalist and politician who co-wrote a book on Canada’s gambling industry, in a statement to the Globe and Mail.

“The [Caesars] casino successfully changed the city’s view of itself.”

Local union leader says Caesars’ body of work makes them logical choice

Dave Cassidy, president of the local Unifor branch representing Caesars Windsor employees, told the Globe and Mail that Caesars’ body of work makes them the only and obvious choice. In particular, Cassidy cited the brand’s success running the facility and ability to provide quality jobs.

The Unifor Local 444 leader said the Las Vegas-based operator also has the support of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. An endorsement from Dilkens and Cassidy could go a long way for Caesars’ chances, especially considering the latter’s praise for the way it dealt with outside threats in the past.

In a September 2022 interview with PlayCanada, Cassidy spoke about Caesars’ handling of closures created by the pandemic, as well as the pressures to compete with a rapidly evolving online gambling sector.

He said the facility endured tough times as a result of border closings and the installation of the ArriveCan app. Prior to the pandemic, about 30% of the facility’s clientele were Americans, by Cassidy’s estimation. The casino’s location along with other factors like favourable conversion rates make Caesars Windsor an appealing destination for residents of Detroit.

The additional threats to business created by online gambling also gave cause for concern. But, Cassidy told PlayCanada the Caesars Rewards program was a saving grace during a trying time.

“We were concerned that online gaming would take away from our foot traffic (at Caesars Windsor). But, the fact of the matter is, with the rewards program, people use the rewards and they still go back to the actual casino because they get to use their (reward) monies (there).”

Cassidy’s sentiment was echoed in the Globe and Mail’s story by Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns. The CGA boss praised Caesars for inspiring an exciting and seamless integration between its online and retail offerings. He finished by saying the brand has been “purposeful in giving people a reason to come to Windsor.”

Caesars committed to online gambling boom with expansion of its app

Like most companies, Caesars has embraced the online gambling boom as an extension of its retail offering. That said, few if any, are also vying to keep hold of one of the most lucrative brick-and-mortar gambling spaces in North America.

As part of its continued commitment to the space, Caesars launched the Caesars Palace online casino app last August. Previously, the Caesars online sportsbook and casino options were available under one Caesars app. However, that app is light years behind the new Caesars Palace app in terms of its capabilities, said Company CEO Tom Reeg.

Photo by Carlos Osorio / AP Photo
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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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