Hard Rock, Rideau Carleton Raceway to partner on $320M casino revamp

Raceway
Hard Rock International has announced it is partnering with the Rideau Carleton Raceway on a new $320-million expansion of the existing raceway facility. Photo provided

Hard Rock International will partner with the Rideau Carleton Raceway on a $320-million project that will feature a new hotel, a live entertainment venue and more than 13,000 square metres of gaming space for slots and card games, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation announced Monday.

OLG chose the new partnership after a competitive procurement process that originally began in 2010, when the province asked the agency to launch a comprehensive review of Ontario’s lottery and gaming network. The new facility will be known as Hard Rock Casino Ottawa.

Hard Rock International runs 175 restaurants, 24 hotels and 11 casinos in 75 countries. In a news release, the Orlando-based company said the massive revamp of the existing raceway facility will result in an “electrifying, integrated entertainment destination” that will create more than 1,900 construction-related jobs and 2,000 “ongoing jobs and opportunities” in the city.

Under the agreement, Hard Rock will take over the day-to-day operations of the casino from the province this fall for a term of 20 years.

“The investments Hard Rock Casino Ottawa will make will substantially enhance the gaming entertainment experience, while increasing revenue for the province and encouraging local economic development,” OLG president and CEO Stephen Rigby said in a release.

Hard Rock and the Rideau Carleton Raceway will “transform the existing property with a complete remodel, rebrand and significant expansion,” according to the news release.

Hard Rock International and Rideau Carleton Raceway Announce Hard Rock Casino Ottawa
A rendering of the planned revamp of the Rideau Carleton Raceway by Hard Rock International.

Hard Rock said it expected the first phase of the project to be ready within the first year of operations. The company said it will redesign the gaming floors and update the aging facility’s signage, racetrack and grandstand.

The expanded casino site will eventually include a new Hard Rock-branded hotel, live entertainment venue and cafe and bar as well as a Hard Rock merchandise shop.

Hard Rock also said it plans to add more slot machines and gaming tables as part of a remodelled 13,000-square-metre casino.

The City of Ottawa, which receives a cut of revenue from the Rideau Carleton facility, has said it will allow no more than 21 new gaming tables added to the 1,250 slot machines already at the site. On average, the city receives about $5 million a year from OLG for its share of the facility’s slots revenues.

In an interview with OBJ earlier this year, OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said the province believes private operators are better equipped to maximize returns from Ontario’s 24 gaming facilities.

Under the new operating agreement, he said, the province will still retain a significant portion of casino revenues but will no longer have to sink taxpayer dollars into capital expenditures such as maintenance and renovations.