“We’re also going to launch a charity poker program,” she said, “where the hosts, such as local branches of the Canadian Mental Health Association and Canadian Cancer Society, will get the proceeds.
“Other renovations are an upgraded coffee shop, new bar and express restaurant where guests can have a quick bite on the way to the gaming floor, new box office, player relations office, staff technical training room, and renovations to washrooms and office space.”
It wasn’t the first time the train station, built in 1912 and expanded in 1931 at a cost of $1.25 million, was renovated. In 1984, Via Rail bought the station and spent $300,000 on refurbishments, only to stop running passenger trains to Regina six years later.
SGC bought the building in 1995 and spent $37 million creating Casino Regina, which opened Jan. 26, 1996. SGC operates the Regina and Moose Jaw casinos under the regulatory authority and supervision of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
Gordon said 100 per cent of the profits from both casinos are returned to communities throughout the province – 50 per cent back into the general revenue fund to help pay for hospitals, building roads and other government responsibilities; 25 per cent to non-profit community arts, culture, sports and similar organizations; and the rest to a First Nations Trust fund. There are four other casinos operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority in other parts of the province.
During the SGC’s 2004-2005 fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, revenue for Casino Regina, combined with that of Casino Moose Jaw -- which opened in 2002 with more than 200 slots, three table games and thrice-weekly poker games -- was $97.7 million, operating expenses were $58.2 million and average daily attendance was 5,723 guests.
During the most recent fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, revenue dipped to $94.6 million, operating expenses increased to $65.3 million and average daily attendance was up by about 1,000 guests to 6,714.
By the end of the third quarter of this 2006-2007 fiscal year, revenue stood at $81.6 million and expenses at $49.7 million. The year 2006 was significant in both casinos’ history because it was the first full year a smoking ban was in effect.
Gordon said: “We had projected decreased revenue but we’re rebounding faster than we thought.” The western habit of resilience and perseverance may be at work. Or people are simply getting used to gaming while not smoking.
Gordon reports that over the first 10 years of Casino Regina’s existence, more than 16 million guests walked through the door. Roughly half the number of players are local and the rest come from other parts of Saskatchewan, neighbouring provinces, the rest of Canada, and some from the United States. Minot, North Dakota, is a four-drive from Regina. Players coming from that distance or farther tend to use chartered buses.
By Albert Warson