The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – May 7, 2014
Two towers, one interim casino and art gallery and a riverboat later, Windsor celebrates 20 years of having a casino in the core.
“We’re having a celebration, last year we celebrated five years of being a Caesars property [which] focused more on enter- tainment, but for the 20th we’re really focusing on Caesars in the community,” said Jhoan Baluyot, manager, public relations and communications for Caesars Windsor.
“It goes beyond the entertainment and drawing in tourists, but it’s also about be- ing part of the business community and non-profit organizations. It’s important for us to be part of the fabric of the community… I think it’s important for us to be a responsible corporate citizen,” she added.
The business landscape has changed immensely since Windsor opened the first commercial casino in the region 20 years ago. Both Detroit and Ohio built casinos, 9-11 events led to the tightening of the border, there was a province-wide indoor smoking ban and 2008 saw an economic recession.
“We face the challenges, but we still continue to be competitive in the market and that’s because of the Caesars brand and the amenities which we offer that some of the Detroit casinos don’t offer … especially our entertainment,” said Baluyot.
Windsor West MP Brian Masse explained that he believes that having a major casino in the city has “contributed to getting Windsor on the map in many respects with some of the signature events that take place down with the Caesars brand in particular. There’s no doubt that economically it’s made a significant contribution [to Windsor].”
“Under both [Casino Windsor and Caesars Windsor] there’s been a lot of philanthropy … I think that’s critical in terms of having a good relationship with the city and with the residents here,” added Masse. “They’re a corporate citizen that doesn’t go around bragging about its contributions, they just do it and it’s very appreciated, coming as an elected representative.”
One thing that both Baluyot and Masse look forward to is the implementation and passing of Bill C-290 on single sports betting. $26 million has been generated illegally while the Senate has been debating the bill, according to the Canadian Gaming Association. A case study prepared by HLT Advisory for the Canadian Gaming Association cites that Windsor could see an annual net gaming profit of roughly $10.5 million each year.
“One of the things that we’re really looking forward to is the legalization of single-sports betting; it’s a wait and see,” said Baluyot. “It gives us a point of differentiation from the states they don’t offer sports betting. We all know that the Detroit and [the] Michigan area are really big sports fans, we have three major sports teams in the area.”
Masse, who will be lobbying the Senate regarding the bill this spring, sees an opportunity to recapture some of the gaming market from the United States that has been lost with the implementation of the bill.
“I have had some discussions with a couple senators… they are recognizing that organized crime and this illegal betting is taking place anyways and that there’s no reason for us not to be doing this,” he said. “The U.S. will eventually move towards that market as well, so it’s a matter of us getting the first punch.”
Baluyot explained that moving forward. Caesar’s was going to stick to the equation that has proved successful: continuing to bring headline entertainment to Windsor and offering world class amenities.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.