Kenora is an area that has seen quite the legal dispute in the past 15 years, involving both commercial and tribal casino operators. Gateway Casinos & Entertainment wants to make a move and obtain licensing for gambling operation in the region, while the Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation is still fighting for its right to oversee casino operation.
Gateway Spokesperson Robert Mitchell recently made it clear that the casino operator is still seeking the most appropriate location for a gambling venue construction. Often times, when it comes to tribal casino operation there are controversial situations related to its licensing issued by the province. In the Kenora area situation, this is a situation that clashes commercial with tribal casino venue operation down the road.
Gateway Casinos Seeks Kenora Location
Gateway Casinos obtained the right to bring a breath of fresh air to the region, a move part of the modernization process launched by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. March 2018 saw the purchase of the North and Southwest Gaming Bundles. This granted the casino operator the right to pursue future casino operation in North Bay and Kenora.
In addition to those, Gateway Casinos also received the right to oversee the day-to-day operation of nine existing locations. Those are OLG Slots at Western Fair District, OLG Slots at Clinton Raceway, OLG Slots at Dresden Raceway, OLG Slots at Hanover Raceway, OLG Slots at Woodstock Raceway, OLG Casino Point Edward, as well as OLG Casino Thunder Bay, OLG Casino Sault Ste. Marie, and OLG Slots at Sudbury Downs.
The two facilities that needed additional conversations, negotiations, and licensing took more time than expected. North Bay faced the stern position of locals opposing future casino operation in the area, but following two City Council votes of approval and Gateway Casinos presentations revealing more about the project, a green light was given. Groundbreaking took place recently, propelling the construction phase of this project. Now it is time for the Kenora project to see development.
First Nation Still in Legal Feud
Playtime Casino Kenora would cost some CA$21 million to its developer and the casino complex is projected to feature some 6,200 square feet of various offerings. The casino floor itself is going to come with a total of 200 slot machines. The Kenora area is referred to as the N4 Zone, but the project has been stalled over the past few months, while a legal dispute is in progress. The North Gaming Bundle amounted to some CA$79 million, according to the information issued by the casino operator.
April saw the official start of the proceedings in Toronto, claiming that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is showcasing favoritism towards commercial casino operators. To this day, Casino Rama Resort is the only First Nations complex in Ontario jointly overseen by Gateway Casino and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. When it comes to Kenora, Wauzhushk Onigum Nation filed a lawsuit against Gateway Casinos, a Crown corporation, as well as the provincial government itself.
Golden Eagle Casino was in operation for the decade between 1994 and 2004, before the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario pulled its license for operation. The First Nation seeks to regain control over gambling operation in Kenora and nix the 20-year contract Gateway Casinos inked with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.