After operating 7 days a week since opening on September 7, 2016, Grand Villa Casino Edmonton is cutting staff and gaming floor hours due to a lack of surface parking, construction in the area, a weak economy, and inadequate transportation infrastructure, according to a recent statement from Gateway Casinos & Entertainment (Gateway).
Located in Edmonton’s ICE District, the Burnaby-headquartered gaming and entertainment company’s $32 million investment was announced in spring 2015.
CTV News Edmonton reports that in a written statement Gateway said…
“Over the past three years, the lack of surface parking, delays in the residential and hospitality projects in the downtown core, delays in the LRT completion and ongoing road closures has made it extremely difficult for customers to visit us.”
Operating hours cut:
The 60,000 square foot property had maintained a 10am to 3am daily operating schedule since opening just shy of three years ago. However, due to the current situation, effective September 15 the casino’s new operating hours will be Thursday to Sunday from noon to 1am. The venue will also be open during major events and concerts at Rogers Place, a multi-use indoor arena in Edmonton.
According to the casino’s website, the venue’s new event hours are Monday – Wednesday from 4pm to 1am and Thursday – Sunday from noon to 3am.
“We examined all options and despite our best efforts to minimize the impact on our employees these changes are necessary if we are to be successful in the years to come,” the company said.
Also being cut is the number of full-time, unionized positions, which will go from 83 to 33, not including management. And according to the union representing workers at the property, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, an additional 50 to 60 part-time employees are expected to be laid off as well.
A spokesman for the union, Michael Hughes, said…
“What they’re telling us is it’s just Grand Villa that’s not doing that well.’
Hughes said that they were “blindsided” by the news, adding that the three months ago the union had been negotiating for a new agreement.
“Our members had voted to accept some concessions with the understanding that this would be them doing their part to help the company turn things around, and just a few months later, we’re contacted by the company and on very short notice are told the casino will be undergoing some significant changes.”
CTV News Edmonton also reports that in addition to all areas of the casino, layoffs are additionally affecting restaurants inclduing Sbarro Pizza, Vera’s Burger Shack and Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt, which will be closing.
British Columbia-based, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd., opened its $32 million four-story development in 2016 as part of the redevelopment of the Alberta city’s Ice District, which is a downtown area centered around the indoor arena [Rogers Place] that is the home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, and replaced the since shuttered Baccarat Casino.
Edmonton Ward 6 Councillor Scott McKeen said that he understands Grand Villa Casino’s struggle, especially considering that the majority of other casinos provide large, free-to-park parking lots.
“It’s not good news for the entire district because we want to see lots of people in and around the area enjoying the amenities,” said McKeen.
Commenting on the layoffs and reduced hours, McKeen added…
“A year or two or five from now, all things being equal, that they’ll be doing just fine.”
Gateway deal with NFL:
In other company news, last month saw Gateway become the Official National Land-Based Casino Partner of the NFL in Canada, with its signature MATCH Eatery & Public House to serve as the exclusive presenting sponsor of the NFL Fantasy App.
Under the terms of the agreement, the operator will have the right to use NFL trademarks in Canada to ‘promote its properties and activate around key NFL events including the NFL Draft, Pro Bowl, and Super Bowl.’