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New casino delayed. No date for construction to start

'Looking forward to when we could turn our attention to resuming construction in North Bay, the pressure right now is on reopening (existing casinos) and we still don't have a date for that'
20200514 gateway casino construction delay turl
Construction of the casino on Pinewood Park Drive is delayed. Jeff Turl/BayToday.

Lady Luck isn't smiling on North Bay's new casino on Pinewood Park Drive.

Construction has hit a snag...a big one called COVID-19. Construction on Cascades Casino has stopped, and won't start anytime soon.

"We can't commit to a date to resume construction in North Bay," Rob Mitchell, Gateway Casinos' Director of Communications told BayToday. "Our primary focus is reopening our 12 existing sites across the province."

He did say however that Gateway Casinos is firmly committed to opening the local casino at a later date.

The company has over 5,000 employees anxious to get back to work and Mitchell says despite the government lifting its construction ban, uncertainty is high.

"We've been operating in the red now for eight weeks with absolutely no cash flow because our sites are closed. We are going to have considerable overhead when we reopen. We don't know under what circumstances we'll be able to reopen."

Cascades was originally targeting this spring for the opening, now it's totally up in the air.

See: North Bay's 'Cascades Casino' to open in spring of 2020

Even when the existing casinos open, revenue will be lower because of new health restrictions.

"We will likely not be able to operate at full capacity. There may be, for every one machine operating, in terms of slots, there may be three that will be down. We may not be able to immediately open our table games.

"Looking forward to when we could turn our attention to resuming construction in North Bay, the pressure right now is on reopening and we still don't have a date for that. So it's a little premature to be returning to construction in North Bay immediately based on the Premier's announcement."

Mitchell says the company is still trying to "war game" what startup costs will be, and how they'll operate in this new normal,

"It' very difficult to say when we can return to completing that facility. I just don't know. The problem right now is the same problem so many other businesses are facing that offer an entertainment product. We're no different from sports franchises, movie theatres and live entertainment, restaurants, travel, and tourism. We're all waiting to see under what conditions we can resume our businesses."

Mitchell says it's fortunate that enough construction got done loclly to make the building self-contained and weatherproof.

"With construction being delayed we're fortunate it's not going to jeopardize the facility. It can lay dormant for a protracted period of time without experiencing any damage. We're in a good position to weather this delay."

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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