Last week, the Hard Rock Casino Ottawa partnership that consists of HR LP Investor Inc. (owned by Hard Rock International) and RCR Investor Inc. (owned by Rideau Carleton Raceway Holdings Limited) provided further details about its multimillion-dollar ambitious plan to rejuvenate and expand the struggling Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa. The two partners plan to invest more than C$318 million to create a full-fledged integrated entertainment complex in Ottawa. The three-phased project is expected to be completed in 2024.
The property will see both its facade and interior changed completely. It was revealed that the raceway is to bring the signature of Hard Rock brand to Ottawa. The ambitious project includes the construction of a music venue, a classy restaurant and an eight-storey hotel. The casino developers hope that they will receive Ottawa city council’s approval to expand the gambling options, which the property’s casino portion will feature.
The city’s zoning rules state that the casino can feature up to 21 gaming tables and the number of slots is expected to increase slightly to 1,250. In November last year, Hard Rock appeared in the middle of a social media firestorm after the company applied to the committee of adjustment (a quasi-judicial body that deals with minor changes to zoning rules) to expand the allowed number of gaming tables from 21 to 35. The company was accused of trying to avoid public scrutiny and “sneakily” add 14 gaming tables without council approval. Eventually, it became clear that Ottawa’s quasi-judicial body approved the company’s request to add 35 gaming tables to the site.
Clearing the Confusion over the Allowed Number of Slot Machines
It is important to note that Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation (OLG) has estimated that the number of slot machines can go up to 2,000 based on the overall interest in playing slots. The city receives a payment from the OLG slots, amounting to no less than $5 million in the last five years.
The latest news raised the industry’s eyebrows after a councilor announced that there has never been a cap on the number of slot machines at the raceway. This Wednesday, Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt explained that the number of slot machines is not controlled by the city’s zoning by-law rules. This means that the number of slot machines is not strictly fixed, which is the case with the number of the gaming tables. Moffatt added that the number of the slot machines has never been part of the land-use rules.
John Smit, the city’s director of economic development, elaborated that OLG is responsible for determining the number of the slot machines at a particular gambling venue. Hard Rock plans to add another 750 slot machines in its second expansion phase, propelling the total number of slot machines to 2,000.