In Canada, the new Grand Villa Edmonton casino from operator Gateway Casinos And Entertainment Limited will open for business later today offering players a selection of 600 slots and 24 gaming tables spread across 60,000 sq ft of entertainment space.

The $24.5 million development is the first new attraction to be completed as part of the redevelopment of the Alberta city’s Ice District, which is a downtown area centered around the Alberta city’s Rogers Place ice hockey arena, and will replace the neighboring Baccarat Casino.

“We owned Baccarat Casino [but] we don’t admit it often because of the way it was,” Tony Santo, Chief Executive Officer for Gateway Casinos And Entertainment Limited told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM program. “Its presentation really wasn’t what we wanted our company to represent. So we were really keen to the fact that we had an opportunity to show Edmonton what we can do with a casino. There is absolutely no comparison between the two.”

While the Baccarat Casino has a single bar and restaurant, the four-story Grand Villa Edmonton is to offer a food court and multiple drinking establishments scattered about its main floor and mezzanine level. Additionally featuring an Atlas Steak And Fish fine-dining franchise as well as the more casual Match Eatery And Public House restaurant, Santo declared that the new casino will attract a more elegant clientele and give downtown Edmonton a taste of the “new Las Vegas”.

“The casino is going to be absolutely gorgeous,” Santo told Edmonton AM. “Grand Villa is our highest brand. It’s not just about gambling. It’s about being entertained and with [Rogers Place] being just next door, it’s the perfect fit for us.”

Edmonton-born former NHL defenseman Jason Strudwick will be hosting a special grand opening this evening with Gateway Casinos And Entertainment Limited proclaiming that this event will feature live music along with giveaways and food and beverage specials as well as “a few surprises”. Members of the operator’s Player Rewards Club will moreover be able to swipe their card for a chance to win instant prizes and weekly cash draws while the first 200 people through the doors are to be handed an envelope containing vouchers that could be worth up to $76.

“I am excited to show Edmonton and all of Alberta our premier destination for entertainment, dining and gaming,” read a statement from Santo. “Grand Villa Edmonton will truly have something for everyone.”