In May last year, Hard Rock International announced that it is to partner with the Rideau Carleton on a new $320-million expansion of the existing raceway. 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), unveiled ambitious plans to transform the ailing raceway into a premier entertainment complex.
In mid-February, Casino Reports provided its readers with the hottest details around the casino expansion. Among all other things, Hard Rock hopes to add another 20 table games bringing the total number of allowed gaming tables up to 55. As it can be recalled, Hard Rock asked the Committee of Adjustment for a permission to add 14 more gaming tables. The zoning for the land only allows a maximum of 21 table games, which was set by the City Council in 2011.
That stirred up the hornet’s nest and Hard Rock was accused of trying to circumvent city council approval. Despite the escalating dispute, the casino operator eventually received the needed approval to install more gaming tables. The company explained that the additional table games are to drive an increase in the overall casino gaming revenue.
Opinions Clash as Casino Expansion Moves Ahead
Anti-gambling crowds explained that the addition of more gaming tables may exacerbate gambling-related problems. Apart from that, gambling opponents explained that the significant casino expansion is an ecological gamble due to the increase in visitor numbers. Increased traffic is another major concern, which will have a negative impact on the air quality and infrastructure of the surrounding area.
This Wednesday, all interested citizens had the chance to attend an open house meeting and receive detailed information regarding the project. Casino gambling is a popular pastime, which is purported to have positive effects on host economies. The industry surely have a positive effect on tax revenues, but it should be admitted that it has also a dark side.
Resident Joseph Scott explained that Albion Road is already busy enough. A traffic assessment report found out that the casino expansion will not cause a significant traffic increase. To handle the situation and soothe concerns over traffic congestions, it was suggested a road widening project.
Coun. Diane Deans, who has been a vocal opponent of expanding gambling in the capital, urged the officials to make a new traffic assessment. She explained that the city staff forgot to include the 2,500-seat theatre, the restaurant and other amenities as potential “traffic generators”. Not all the residents were that critical to the casino expansion project. Some explained that they are on board with the casino expansion.