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Gaming Guru

 

Casino Windsor Announces Major Expansion

16 February 2005

On Monday of this week, Casino Windsor announced a major expansion of its facilities along the Detroit River front. The casino will receive a major facelift and refurbishing and the Canadian government has announced that it will build a 100,000 square foot convention center, a 5,000 seat auditorium and a 23 story hotel tower with 400 additional rooms. All of these new structures will be built just west of the casino.

The new development and the refurbishing of the casino are designed to bring the casino up to Las Vegas' standards. It will be the largest casino/resort/convention center complex in all of Canada when it is completed in 2007. Construction will begin this spring. With close to 800 rooms, a 100,000 square foot convention center and a sizeable auditorium planned, the casino will provide a true destination resort to this region and illustrate the powerful economic impact the casino industry can have on a region.

Casino Windsor originally opened on May 17, 1994, with the conversion of the Windsor Art Gallery into an interim facility. It then had 50,000 square feet of gaming space on three floors. This operation was supplemented in December 1995 with the addition of a riverboat casino called the "Northern Belle Casino." On July 29, 1998, the current facility opened to the public.

"The casino thrived even after all three Detroit casinos opened," observed Robert Russell, senior gaming analyst with Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. "In the year prior to 9/11, Casino Windsor was the market leader," Russell noted. However, revenues have been on a steady decline ever since the 9/11 tragedy as a result of patrons' concerns with potential problems and delays crossing the border. Casino Windsor has been subsequently adversely impacted by a declining U.S. dollar, the 2003 SARs outbreaks and electricity blackout, and a 45-day strike by its unionized labor force in 2004.

The new amenities are designed to increase the number of visitors by providing additional reasons to make the crossing to Ontario from the U.S. The casino no doubt hopes that by getting patrons to visit for a show or convention, they may be able to demonstrate that the border crossing isn't that difficult.

As this history reflects, Casino Windsor and the Province of Ontario have routinely demonstrated their knowledge of today's casino-gaming customer. They understand the need to keep things new, exciting and ever-expanding to keep the crowds coming. With the disadvantage of the border crossing and a site location far from most of their potential customers - they have decided to focus on expanding the market by bringing convention business to the city.

The new convention floor space will fill a desperate need for this region, and the speed in which Casino Windsor plans to be open will clearly help from a competitive standpoint. Yet, at 100,000 square feet, the facility won't necessarily be a major threat to Cobo Convention Center. Hopefully, the tourism groups from Windsor and Detroit will work cooperatively to make this region an attractive place for convention business with an international flavor.

Competition can be a very good thing. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told The Detroit News' Joel Smith that this development could be a blessing in disguise for the City. "It should motivate Detroit to get its act together," the Mayor said. Let's hope so. Detroit deserves it, the casino operators deserve it, and, most of all, the region's casino customers deserve it.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com