The reels are turning and the virtual roulette tables are spinning now that the new casino in Wasaga Beach has opened to the public.
Playtime Casino Wasaga Beach slotted its grand opening for today (Nov. 23) at 1 p.m., and welcomed VIP guests earlier in the day for tours, including Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith and members of council.
The casino has been in the works since 2012, when the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) started looking for a host for a casino in the area. At that time, OLG stated the casino could potentially have been located in Collingwood, Clearview, Springwater, or Wasaga Beach. By 2018, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, which also operates a gaming facility in Innisfil, was chosen as the operator and they planned the building on Mosley Street at the roundabout intersection at Lyons Court.
Match Eatery and Public House is the family-friendly restaurant located on-site, with indoor and outdoor seating and a patio equipped with heaters and a roof to offer wintertime outdoor dining.
The gaming floor, which is limited to guests 19 years old and over, is outfitted with 231 slot machines and 12 e-gaming tables meant to simulate the table game experience.
The building is equipped with facial recognition surveillance for the gaming floor.
Gateway Casinos and Entertainment spokesperson Robert Mitchell said the operators are focused on making sure there are ways to have fun at Playtime, even without gambling.
Over the last six months, the company has hired people to fill the 140 jobs created for the casino. According to general manager Jane Dunbar, there are still a few positions to fill, but most are hired. Mitchell said about 90 per cent of staff are local to the Wasaga Beach area.
Dunbar said Gateway has trained the staff, mostly at the Innisfil facility, in preparation for opening day.
Mitchell said the Wasaga site was a $34.3-million investment by Gateway.
As a condition of their licence from the Ontario government, all casinos are required to have representation from the private, non-profit organization, the Responsible Gambling Council. In Wasaga Beach, service co-ordinators from the council will be on-site for 15 hours a week.
Dave Maynard was at the casino on opening day in the PlaySmart centre to offer information on the games available at the casino and provide support for responsible gambling.
"We help people to understand gambling within their means, and help people recognize when it starts to be a problem," said Maynard.
He said he gets a lot of questions about slot machines and the odds of winning.
"There's a misconception about slots, and people figure if they sit there long enough, they'll win, but it doesn't work that way," said Maynard.
The council will also work with casino operators to support people who want to take "play breaks." They can ask to be prohibited from entering any casinos for anywhere between one month to five years. The casinos will use their facial recognition surveillance to prevent people on play breaks from entering the gaming floor.
"We're not against gambling," said Maynard. "We see it as a recreational activity that can be fun."
The Wasaga Beach casino will be open Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Gateway Casinos operates 13 other casinos in Ontario, two in Alberta, and 15 in British Columbia. The Ontario locations include Casino Rama, and casinos in Point Edward, Sarnia, Innisfil, Woodstock, London, Hanover, Chatham, Clinton, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Sault Ste. Marie.