Cascades Casino Wasaga Beach Gets Green Light

Gateway Casino and Entertainment may receive its building permit this month for its Cascades Casino Wasaga Beach project.

The project has been discussed since 2012, though Gateway was only chosen to build and operate the facility in March 2018. Even so, the process has been arduous at times. But with a recent hold lifted, Gateway can finally move forward with its plans.

Gateway Gets Green Light

During the last week of August, the Wasaga Beach city council met to discuss the property on which a casino was to be built.

The council members voted to remove the hold, which was the barrier preventing Gateway Casino and Entertainment from obtaining its building permit.

Gateway already obtained other approvals. In July, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) issued its approval for the casino. And the drawings were submitted to building officials weeks ago.

In addition, the Ministry of Transportation reviewed an updated traffic study and approved the casino in that location as being in compliance with regulations. The casino will overlook the roundabout at Mosley, Beachwood, and Lyons Court.

Cascades Casino Wasaga Beach will be a building of 10,000 square meters. The casino will feature approximately 300 slot machines and 10 table games. There will also be two restaurants, like the MATCH Eatery and Public House offerings at other Gateway sites in Ontario.

Gateway Casinos

Community Concerns Remain

According to the Simcoe news website, people living in the community expressed concerns.

Some residents recently formed the Wasaga Beach Ratepayers Association and wanted to participate in discussions about the casino. However, they were told that the decisions have been made.

The organization’s vice-president, Glen Smale, noted that community members were concerned about the impact on traffic, despite the Ministry of Transportation’s approval. They also expressed concerns about policing. Would law enforcement required at the casino site take away from policing of the streets of Wasaga Beach?

Mayor Nina Bifolchi assured residents that all proper processes were followed in the runup to the Gateway approvals. The project had been discussed in some form since 2012, and officials felt that residents had ample time to comment thus far.

It All Started in 2012

In May of 2012, OLG determined that Wasaga Beach was a possible location for a gaming establishment.

Almost immediately, the Wasaga Beach city council held meetings to decide if the town was interested. By November, other potential locations were out of the running, as three other cities declined to host a gaming site. Wasaga Beach approved the idea for a casino by a 6-to-1 vote.

From there, it took some time to choose a site for the new building. Four sites were chosen, but it took until mid- 2014 to decide on Zone C7 as the location, though the specifics had yet to be determined.

In September 2014, OLG had to decide on which operator would handle the Wasaga Beach casino. It was put into a bundle with Casino Rama and Slots at Georgian Downs. Bids were requested for consideration.

It took years to finally choose a casino operator. In 2018, OLG eventually settled on Gateway Casinos and Entertainment based in British Columbia. Gateway then signed a 23-year agreement to manage the three properties. It agreed to immediately take over management of Casino Rama and Georgian Downs, and it would pursue the necessary paperwork to begin building the Wasaga Beach facility.

Gateway then approved Wasaga Beach over a neighboring town for the new casino, and the final location was announced in April 2019.

The process of holding town meetings and addressing concerns went on through the spring and summer months of 2019 until the end of August. The city council’s approval was what Gateway needed to move forward.

Next Steps

Gateway is working with the owner of the 7.5-acre property, DAS Developments, to obtain a building permit and begin construction.

After the drawings were submitted, Wasaga Beach building officials confirmed that the drawings looked good and a permit was likely to be submitted in the first weeks of September. With the Ministry of Transportation approvals, there should be little to delay the permit.

Official Danny Rodgers noted, “They have given us instruction that they’re OK with us amending the site plan and with the town issuing a building permit for a casino in that location.”

When the permit is issued, Gateway will likely make an official announcement regarding the timeline of the project. This should include the construction start date and an estimated completion month, which is likely going to be in late 2020 or early 2021.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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