The development of a Casino at Woodbine Racetrack passed another major milestone this past week with the signing of a lease between the province and the racetrack's owners.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has announced the signing of two long-term leases with Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). The first is for the continued operation of OLG's current gaming operation at Woodbine racetrack.
The second lease is for the development and operation of a large casino, on land owned by Woodbine Entertainment Group, and includes gaming and non-gaming components that will be developed and operated by a service provider that is being chosen through OLG's procurement process that is described later in this article.
The announcement included the following statement by OLG President and CEO Stephen Rigby:
"This is a significant milestone in OLG’s modernization progress in a key market for Ontario. It will help OLG achieve its modernization objectives, which include job creation, new capital investment and increased revenue for the Province of Ontario"
It also included a statement by Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group:
"Today is an important day for Woodbine Entertainment Group. These leases will allow us to continue to contribute to the vibrancy of the horse racing business and the economic benefits it generates for the Province and the thousands of people it employs"
This development follows a vote by Toronto City Council on July 8, to endorse the expansion of gaming at the Woodbine site in northwest Etobicoke, subject to a number of conditions, including the construction of an integrated entertainment complex that would complement the casino with additional facilities and jobs.
The new lease is for a 22 year term, and is integrated to the current modernization process underway at OLG. The lease terms include provisions for Woodbine to work with the service provider that OLG is currently seeking under it's GTA Gaming Bundle Request for Pre-Qualification (RFPQ). This RFPQ was to expire on August 17, 2015, but has now been extended to September 10, 2015 to allow for bidders to work around the changed criteria. The selected service provider will be required to sign both leases mentioned above.
The RFPQ for Woodbine's area includes up to 1,200 gaming 'positions' or seats, which could mean up to 120 gaming tables, as well as up to 2,400 slot machines in total.
This service provider will be responsible for developing and operating new and existing casino gaming operations in the GTA area, under the terms of the RFPQ, including the area that includes Woodbine (Gaming Zone C2), as well as the area that includes OLG Slots at Ajax Downs (Gaming Zone C3, also includes Pickering, Ajax and Whitby), and potentially the Great Blue Heron Casino (Gaming Zone C8), subject to negotiation with the stakeholders at that facility.
Other areas of the province are covered in different tender documents and are not included in the scope of the GTA gaming bundle.
Interestingly, the RFPQ already included provisions for a term of "approximately 22 years", so this latest development aligns well with that provision.
No doubt, there will be more details as the process goes forward, including the September 10, 2015 deadline for RFPQ submissions.
More details in these earlier articles:
OLG Update on Toronto Area Casino Tender Process
Ajax Whitby Casino Plan Moves Forward
New Ajax Whitby Casino Operator Could Run Toronto and Port Perry Venues
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