Grand opening for Cascades Casino Chatham

Hundreds showed up to the grand opening of Cascades Casino Chatham on Thursday.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff, right, speaks at the grand opening of Cascades Casino Chatham beside Steve Rowbotham, the casino's general manager, on Thursday. JAKE ROMPHF, Postmedia News. jpg, CD

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Hundreds showed up to Thursday’s grand opening of Cascades Casino Chatham.

As people filled the gaming floor on one side of the building, local politicians and executives from Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd., Cascades’ parent company, spoke to a crowd inside the Match Eatery before the ribbon cutting at the casino’s official opening.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls said it was a “beautiful day inside Cascades Casino.”

Steve Rowbotham, the casino’s general manager, said he was proud of the 200 jobs the casino created, many of which are employees coming over from Cascades Casino Dresden, and the $36-million investment Gateway put into the casino.

The casino is the first completely new, ground-up build that Gateway has done in Ontario. The company’s three other current casino locations were built or renovated in existing structures.

“This property allowed us to actually build what we would build, what we wanted to build, and showcase the features as we would,” said Bradley Bardua, Gateway’s CEO. “This property is key for us in Ontario. It’s the first of a series of new builds.”

Bardua said the grand opening was meant to introduce the facility to the community and guests. He said there will be more events going on at the casino in the coming days and weeks.

“It’s really all about bringing the community to the site this week,” he said.

NHL players Max Domi and T.J. Brodie will be at the casino on Friday for a meet and greet. They will also accept a cheque for $2,000 from Gateway Gives, the company’s charity organization, for juvenile diabetes research.

The Chatham-Kent Hospice Foundation was selected by the employees of the casino to be the beneficiary of all the grand opening ceremonies. From Aug. 8 to Sept. 6, $2 from every Tropic Thunder pizza and $1 from every Sons of Kent draft beer sold at the casino will go toward the hospice foundation.

Mayor Darrin Canniff said it was a great coming together of the community, Gateway and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Association (OLG).

“We worked so well together to create this wonderful facility,” he said.

The OLG donated $884,638 to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent at the grand opening.

Jim Bultje of Chatham said the casino was “pretty spectacular.” As a local home builder, he’s glad to see the 200 jobs come to the city.

“We hope to build some houses for people who are moving to Chatham for the casino,” he said. “We’re not into gambling, but we’re definitely into eating and the food here is just fantastic.”

Jeanine Foulon, a Chatham resident, said she enjoys the convenience of the casino.

“I was here last Friday and the place was just a hoppin’,” she said. “It’s very welcoming and I’m glad it’s here.”

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