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Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village Initiative

Chatham-Kent could be a Big Winner in the OLG Shakeup…

Dealtown, ON – March 15, 2012:  It came as absolutely no surprise to me that OLG took prompt action to close the three U.S. border slot facilities as step one of their initiative to modernize lottery and gaming in Ontario. The slot-at-track facilities at Windsor, Sarnia and Fort Erie generate annual income per slot machine of $54K, $65K and $74K respectively when the remaining fourteen tracks have a combined average of $182K per annum per slot. Unfortunately, the next three lowest tracks in the program are Clinton, Dresden and Rideau which certainly leaves the future of the slots-at-track programs at these tracks vulnerable to closure.
The three sites being closed have a total of approximately 1600 slots supported by 400 full time workers and 177 part timers.  The good news is that OLG is committed to the relocation of these slots to other centres, tracks or casinos across Ontario where many of these jobs will be recovered.

From a Chatham-Kent standpoint, all is not lost, yet.  OLG has suggested that the slots at some of these other tracks could be moved to more accessible locations within the host municipalities which in CK’s case likely means somewhere in or around Chatham.  However the 118 jobs currently supporting the 116 slots at Dresden Racetrack are small in comparison to the larger opportunity that exists for our community.

While OLG has already taken steps to change the flawed and misused Slot-at-Track program, they have also opened the proverbial barn door for new casinos.  Certainly Toronto seems destined to be the host of the next Vegas style glitzy casino.  But more importantly, the door is still open for another major rural resort casino, like the one that I have been promoting for Dealtown. Let me explain why Chatham-Kent could be and should be the next biggest winner in OLG’s modernization plan.

What most people don’t know is that Casino Rama is the only rural based destination resort casino of the big four in Ontario. It attracts guests from far and wide even though it is not located in a major populous metropolitan area.  In fact, Rama is 14 minutes from Orillia with its tiny population of 30K and 38 minutes (47.5KM) from Barrie with its growing population of 135K.  In fact Rama is at best a 1 ½ hour drive from the populous GTA and I am being extremely generous with the time having driven Hwy 400 many hundreds of times.

Yet, despite these facts Casino Rama is one of Ontario’s most successful and profitable casinos.  In fact, according to your fourth quarter results for Fiscal 2010 – 2011 it outperformed both Caesars Windsor and the consolidated Niagara properties in gaming revenues based on annual per slot and table numbers.  Rama’s slots averaged $125K per annum while the table games delivered just over a million dollars per table.

So you ask, “What’s my point?” My point is, if OLG truly wants to maximize its profits then the formula should include at least one more strategically located rural destination casino resorts.

The Dealtown Casino and Retirement Village that I proposed for southern Chatham-Kent on beautiful Lake Erie where summer begins first and winter ends earlier than anyplace in Ontario, must be your first choice. The land is already engineered; the buildings are ready for transformation and the price tag to open this facility is a quarter of the cost that the Toronto Casino will cost.  In fact, several major private developers with solid track records in Canada are aware of my initiative and are ready to pounce on it given any sign from you that they might not be wasting their time and money.

Not only is the Dealtown Casino located in Ontario’s warmest climate but it is geographically located within 1½ hours of half of Ontario’s population outside the GTA and its extended Golden Horseshoe area. The 2006 census reported Southwestern Ontario’s population as 2,443,484.  Add to that stunning statistic the hard fact that more than half the Americans who visit or pass through Ontario by car, truck or RV do so via Hwy 401 and must pass by one of the five exits that lead to Dealtown.  And consider the fact that the Bloomfield exit on 401 is less than 9 miles and only two stop signs from the proposed casino resort.  Few people realize that it takes longer to get to downtown Chatham from this exit then it takes to be parked at the Dealtown Casino.

So cheer up, wake up and speak up if you want to see the 1600 direct and 1400 indirect jobs in our community. Learn how a rural resort casino differs from the Vegas style glass casino.  Yes, OLG has opened the door but already 26 other communities in Ontario have already tossed their hats in the pot.  The first and most critical requirement specified by OLG is that any proposal MUST have the unanimous support of its municipal government!

How would you rate CK’s chances?

Brian Keenan

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