Hard Rock International Wins Right to Build Ottawa Casino

Posted on: May 17, 2017, 01:30h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2017, 02:16h.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, fresh from expanding into New Jersey through the purchase of the Trump Taj Mahal, is set to export its Hard Rock Casino brand even further north, to Canada, specifically the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

 Hard Rock to redevelop Rideau-Carleton Raceway
The Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa, Canada, will become a Hard Rock International-operated property in the fall. It will then undergo a $350 million revamp by the company in 2019. (Ottawa Citizen)

The Seminoles announced on Tuesday that they had won a bidding process to build a casino complex at the Rideau Carleton Raceway, in Ottawa’s rural south.

The project will be a joint investment between Hard Rock International and the owner of the track, Rideau Carleton Raceway Holdings.

$350 Million Expansion

Under the terms of the licensing deal, struck with the state operator-regulator Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG), Hard Rock will take over control of the current gaming facility’s operations this fall, with expansion development beginning in 2019.  

That will involve a $350 million transformation of the existing property into a hotel-casino resort with a 2,000-seat music venue.

It will comprise a complete remodel, rebrand and significant expansion, leading to an economic development boost,” according to a press release from Hard Rock.

“The multi-phase project is expected to potentially create 1,900 construction-related jobs and 2,000 direct and indirect ongoing jobs,” it claims.

Gaming Limitations

The casino has been a long time coming after an initial 2012 idea to create a casino license for downtown Ottawa was buried by a barrage of objection from local residents.

At the same time, the Liberal provincial government’s decision to ban slots at the Rideau-Carelton Racetrack was threatening the future of racing at the track.

By late 2013, the city council had said it would only support a new casino if it were built at the racetrack, and only if it were limited to 21 gaming tables, on top of the existing 1,250 slot machines.

While the gaming limitations were a far cry from the initial vision for a new casino in the region, Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International, told the Ottawa Citizen this week that his company hoped there might be more leeway in the future.  

“I wouldn’t say we’re hedging our bets,” Allen said. “We certainly understand what the scope is today and we understand what it could be. We’ll take one step at a time through the process itself.”

“We believe there’s a lot of opportunity to grow and prosper in the area,” he added.

Additional to its expansion into Ottawa and Atlantic City, Hard Rock International says it is still committed to building a $1 billion casino in northern New Jersey, close to New York City, should voters change the law to permit it.