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Casino a whirlwind of construction

Complex will be fully operational by opening day,
By Mike Youds
August 7, 2015 4:36 P.M.
Tony Santo, middle, CEO of Gateway Casinos, leads a media tour of complex.

Cascades Casino may appear as though it won’t be ready for its grand opening in less than two weeks, but outward looks can be deceiving.

Gateway Casinos CEO Tony Santo was confident on Friday that it most certainly will be ready for guests. The entertainment complex in Aberdeen is hopping with construction and installation crews completing interior and exterior jobs, but the essential components are in place and only final details remain, Santo said during a media tour.

“There’s not as much work as you might think,” he said as workers toiled away. Santo has more than 30 years of experience in the business, having operated large-scale and international operations in cities such as Las Vegas and Reno.

“We’re really in a good place,” he added. “I’ve opened casinos in a lot worse situations than this.”

The  50,000 sq. ft., $40-million complex features a sprawling gaming floor, where many of the 500 slot machines, 18 table games and three poker tables are already installed, as well as two restaurants, a Match Eatery and Public House, buffet and a new restaurant to be be unveiled on opening day.

This casino will be a lot like Gateway’s existing complex in Langley and the Starlight Casino in New Westminster. 

“They’re going to see the facility as a casino with all the restaurants and bars open. As you can see, there are plenty of slot machines and tables in place.”

A gently sloping entranceway is intended to make the complex wheelchair-accessible — there are no stairs except one flight leading to a VIP gaming area. Protective masking conceals the marble on the entrance floor, but there are elements of local themes that will greet guests.

“We really tried to incorporate Kamloops into the design,” Santo said.

The restaurants are situated so that families can dine without going into the gaming area. Beyond the Match Eatery with its 300 seats indoors and 180 outdoors lies the makings of a higher-end restaurant that will seat another 150 diners. 

“This is the first execution of this level in our system,” Santo said, adding that they’re thinking of adding it to existing facilities.

Gaming certainly dominates the complex but there is an intentional effort to offer more than gambling.

“This is about people going out and having a social experience, having a good time with friends and family.”

Even the washrooms are high-end with all-in-one faucets and hand dryers, and TV sets still to be installed on the mirrors.

About 250 workers are employed in the final stage of construction, with about 40 working on overnight shifts.

“We’ve been going around the clock,” said Rob Ward, director of property development. “We’ve had some real luck with the trades. It’s a big, complicated job that we’re doing quite quickly.”

Late delivery of some of the steel components and an uninterrupted power system (UPS) that was damaged on delivery held up the opening by a few weeks. The only component of the complex that won’t be operational on opening day is the outdoor amphitheatre that they decided not to pursue earlier on due to the timing of opening late in the season. The theatre may open next summer.

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