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New Casino Inaugurated in Sarnia, Hiawatha Horse Park by Gateway

  • Published date13 March 2020

Following the shutdown of racetrack slots by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation 8 years back, Gateway has unveiled its new casino at Sarnia, Hiawatha Horse Park, in southwest Ontario.

The new facility measuring 53,100 square feet started its operations on 30 January 2020 and is run by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited. The 22,033 square foot gaming area boasts 150 slot machines as well as its branded ‘Express Bar’ that is fully licensed.

Services and Facilities

Inspired by its Match Eatery and Public House at its Starlight Casino Point Edward (a much bigger venue), the Express Bar serves a wide variety of its typical food and beverage specialties. Following the announcement of a renovation on 26 June 2017, the Starlight Casino Point Edward opened in January 2020 at the cost of $26M. And it happens to be Ontario’s primary Starlight brand.

Sixty new jobs have been gifted to the local community by the new Sarnia casino. It also offers players the option of redeeming the points earned while playing slots. Through Gateway’s My Club Rewards scheme, points earned can be redeemed at any Gateway casino in all of Canada.

Inaugural Event

The inauguration was attended by the likes of Mike Bradley, Mayor of Sarnia, and Bob Bailey, Sarnia-Lambton MPP alongside officials from both OLG and Gateway.

Jamie Papp, Senior VP at Gateway, stated: “It is a great pleasure for Gateway to be presenting the Sarnia-Lambton district with the new entertainment and gaming facility. We hope our guests will enjoy the same atmosphere and service offered at our Starlight Casino, albeit at a more warm and friendly level.”

Slots-at-Racetrack Project

As per the Sarnia Observer, Mr. Bailey expressed the deep loss to the horse racing business with the closedown of the slots at the Ontario racetracks in 2012.

Bailey further stated: “The City of Sarnia and Gateway Casino’s Hiawatha Horse Park are indeed witnessing a very significant event today. By reinvestment in the Slots at Racetrack project, our government has made true its promise to the millions who rely on horse racing. The City of Sarnia can smile again with the return of a first-class entertainment and gaming arena with the partnership between Gateway Casino and Hiawatha. This will certainly be a lucrative nudge towards the Sarnia-Lambton and local business economy.”

Bradley, the Mayor of Sarnia, said, “Hiawatha Horse Park is excited to have the slots back. It promises jobs to not only the local community but also an effective strength to the horse racing business. I wish the very best to all Hiawatha Slots guests.”

Bruce MacKenzie, OLG Vice President of Land-Based Gaming, congratulated Gateway on the impressive opening ceremony and stated on behalf of the Ontario government-owned Crown Corporation that, “By investing in this gaming facility, we are not only ensuring the best gaming entertainment for clients, but the latter will also become more educated about local horse racing business, and OLG, in turn, will be able to continue its efforts at offering the natives and territory of Ontario the best benefits possible.”

Jim Henderson, the owner of Hiawatha Horse Park, expressed his pleasure at witnessing the functioning of the slots once again. Referring to Gateway as a ‘tenant of the horse park,’ he further stated, “We have now got another support.” Along with other activities, the track still offers harness racing.

As maintained by the Sarnia Observer, Henderson further stated that “horseracing is getting back on its feet. Real money Slots and horseracing make an exciting twosome.” And going by what he also said, it looks like there are indications for future developments at the spacious 164-acre horse park.

By being the host community, Sarnia will most probably receive a cut from the earnings by the casino. As indicated by Bradley, the city will get an additional sum of $400,000 per year, which it intends to utilize for investment schemes.

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