Casino construction ahead of schedule

Tony Santo, CEO of Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, left, and Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff share a laugh as municipal officials and the media toured the construction site of the new Cascades Casino in Chatham recently.

Construction on the $36-million Gateway Casino in Chatham is about six weeks ahead of schedule, meaning the venue could be open to the public in early July.

A number of members of municipal council and Mayor Darrin Canniff attended a muddy walk through of the construction site at the corner of Richmond Street and Keil Drive in Chatham on Feb. 5, along with Gateway officials.

back in Chatham for the first time since the groundbreaking here last July, said he’s pleased with the progress.

“It’s going to be a great entertainment facility,” he said.

Rob Mitchell, head of communications for Gateway, said construction is proceeding well.

“We managed to get the main property enclosed before the winter weather arrived,” he said. “That’s what was critical as we beat the elements.”

Originally slated for an opening of Aug. 15, officials are hopeful they can open the doors possibly as early as Canada Day.

Chatham Coun. Karen Kirkwood-Whyte said she’s excited about the new casino.

“It will be awesome. It will be another draw to Chatham-Kent,” she said. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg on what we have to offer. There are a lot of assets that need to be showcased.”

Canniff said the excitement is contagious.

“The feedback we’re hearing is mostly positive about it,” he said of the casino construction. “This is adding 200 new jobs. We’re going to keep people in Chatham-Kent. It’s an attraction for Chatham-Kent and it will be part of our marketing plan.”

BLT Construction Services is tasked with building the 45,000 square-foot facility. Project manager Robert Principe helped lead the tour.

North Kent Coun. Jamie McGraill, whose largest community, Dresden, is losing its Slots at Dresden gaming facility when the new casino in Chatham opens, said she looks at the new facility in a bittersweet manner.

“I understand the reasoning behind this,” she said of moving and expanding the existing operation. “We are keeping people in the municipality.”

All employees with the Slots at Dresden will have the chance to move to the new facility, according to Damien De Roux, general manager of the Slots at Dresden.

“Everybody who is there has the opportunity make the move,” he said, anticipating most will. “We have a lot of staff who commute from Chatham now.”

McGraill said Dresden would feel the void when the slots close there.

“We need to really act on filling that space. It should be a priority to get something there,” she said.

De Roux, who will oversee the Chatham operation, said he’s excited to see the expansion of the slot floor, new table games being added, as well as two restaurants on site.

The Cascades casino will have more than 300 slot machines and a dozen table games.

It also features two Gateway signature restaurants, Match Eatery and Public House and The Buffet.

Santo said initially the target users will be from Chatham-Kent, but Gateway plans to expand its marketing to eventually reach a wider area.


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