An hour before the ribbon cutting that officially opened Kamloops’ new $40-million Cascades Casino on Wednesday night, workers were still running around carrying boards, while uniformed staff were polishing windows and setting up in the restaurants. The front counter for Matches restaurant was still being installed.
On the gaming floor, poker tables were being stocked with chips and slot machines were being checked out before being commissioned. Outside, the parking lot was being cleaned up before any cars could be allowed in.
The state of construction of the casino, which takes over the former Rona building supply store on Versatile Drive in Aberdeen, has been a question mark for weeks but somehow it all came together just in time for the speeches and ribbon cutting.
And, a couple of hours later, the front doors opened for the public to explore the lavishly designed new gaming facility less than a day after the old Lake City Casino on Victoria Street was shuttered.
It was a big day for Gateway Casinos CEO Tony Santo, who led a media tour before greeting several hundred VIP guests who poured in for the event. He lavished praise on staff, contractors, and City Hall for helping make it happen.
“The City of Kamloops was behind us,” he said, recalling that when he told Mayor Peter Milobar he’d bring a new casino to town, Milobar pointed out he was the third casino CEO to make that promise.
Milobar, however, returned the praise, saying the new facility is “on a par” with casinos elsewhere in Canada and even Las Vegas, a welcome change from its aging predecessor downtown.
“Frankly, the downtown casino was a bit of an eyesore,” he said.
B.C. Lottery Corp. CEO Jim Lightbody called Cascades “a first-class gaming entertainment facility,” while BCLC board chair Bud Smith noted that it’s been 30 years since BCLC ‘s head office was set up in Kamloops.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone said it represents “hard dollars and jobs.”
Santo kept a surprise for the end of the ceremonies — Colin James was announced as the featured entertainment for the evening. After the ribbon cutting, the special guests headed onto the gaming floor for a close-up of the banks of slots and rows of gaming tables. And then it was the public’s turn.
Cascades has 500 slots, 18 table games and three poker tables. Ringing the 30,000 sq. ft. gaming floor are the Match Eatery and Public House, The Buffet restaurant, and the Atlas Steak and Fish restaurant.
The facility encompasses 65,000 sq. ft. of entertainment space and has created 200 new jobs for a total of 330 employees with an annual payroll of $7 million.