Gateway’s Kenora casino project on hold

There are currently no plans to begin construction on the approved $21 million casino project in Kenora, Ont., according to Gateway Casinos and Entertainment.

Gateway’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Rob Mitchell, told Kenora Online that the company is instead refocusing its efforts to increase its revenues and bring employees back to work as the casino and hospitality industries continue to look toward long-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like most businesses in the hospitality industry, we’ve been shuttered for the better part of two years now,” said Mitchell. “We were able to open sporadically at some sites, but we were under all kinds of restrictions.

“We had a lot of challenges, and it dramatically affected our business. Right now, our focus is on recovering our business. But we’re optimistic. Things seem to be getting better. Our focus is bringing our employees back to work and returning to business.”

Before the pandemic, the tentative completion date for Kenora’s casino had been expected to be in the first quarter of 2022, according to Gateway. The project was approved by Kenora councillors a decade ago and passed provincial reviews back in 2019. It includes plans for a 23,300 square-foot casino facility with a 6,200 square-foot gaming floor and 200 slot machines, as well as Gateway’s Match Eatery restaurant. A presentation to Kenora councillors in 2020 also included plans for 100 acres of new housing units, with room for industrial and commercial lots.

“We’re really taking a cautiously optimistic approach to the future,” added Mitchell. “Like any business, we need a period of stability to recover. And we’ll see what happens. It’s baby steps. These are challenging times, times that are currently somewhat uncertain. I can’t forecast what the future holds.”

Gateway Casinos opened up its 11th location in Ontario this month, its new North Bay casino, nearly three years after breaking ground on the delayed project. It also operates two casinos in Alberta and 14 in British Columbia, with around 6,500 employees.

The company says that it also remains committed to a casino project in Sudbury, Ont. Work on that casino was delayed in November after receiving approval from Sudbury City Council in September.

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