Industry Reports

Hiawatha Horse Park Says Yes to Gateway Casinos Slots after a 6-Year Hiatus

Sarnia is preparing to welcome back slots machines operation following about six years of gaming hiatus. This Monday was a special one, as the City Council voted that Hiawatha Horse Park welcomes back its slots hall overseen by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment.

The racetrack is going to feature as many as 150 slot machines ready to diversify the entertainment possibilities available on site and transform the field with its gaming revenue allocations. When it comes to slot machines and their relationship with race courses, this is a story dating back for more than a decade.

Ontario had its Slots at Racetracks Program, which launched operation in the late 1990s, as a response to growing discontent with casino proposals. Communities across the province were opposing well-rounded casino venues construction, eventually pushing gaming to the local racetracks.

Slots Return to Racecourse

The gaming halls featured slot machines exclusively and their gaming revenue was able to support the operation of the racetrack, as well as local projects via regular gaming revenue allocations. Six years ago, the government put an end to this program and the lack of funding was quickly felt across the Sarnia area.

Now the government is willing to modernize the field and introduce Gateway Casinos to the area. As many as 150 slot machines are going to welcome their casino patrons for the first time in six years after the official approval of this week. Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley expressed his content with the way things are developing and he pointed out that this additional support is going to boost Hiawatha Horse Park.

The new venue is also going to make the location much more desirable, as gaming enthusiasts are also going to be drawn to the regular live horse races happening within the 2019 live schedule of Hiawatha Horse Park. It currently features 21 live dates. Mayor Bradley said that following a market assessment the number of slot machines available on site could increase.

Slots Number Could Increase

It should be taken into account that before the official end of the Slots at Racetracks Program, OLG Slots at Hiawatha Horse Park featured as many as 450 slot devices. The Liberal Government put an end of it in 2012 and ever since then the gaming hall has been rendered void. October 2018 saw action in the direction of revival, as Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was willing to make a change.

In collaboration with the Ontario Harness Horse Association, the gaming force aimed to bring back to life slots gaming at racecourses. The provincial gaming corporation and the casino operator will have to work on estimating the number of individuals that would have to be hired on site of the slots location. This is going to result in a significant boost in the local employment market. In the foreseeable future, the 150 slot machines could swell in number.

There are no limits and they could go up to 450 and even surpass the previous gaming potential of OLG Slots. Now that local officials have given their nod, it is time for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to thoroughly review the application. The next step would be Finance Minister Vic Fedeli giving the ultimate green light for operation. For 12 years of OLG Slots operation, the community saw some CA$30 million in allocations.