Red Deer Resort and Casino Launches, Signals New Growth in Alberta’s Gaming Sector

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On September 8, the Red Deer Resort and Casino swung its regal doors open, marking its emergence from the former Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre in Red Deer. This event signals another key investment in Alberta’s casino industry for the year.

Acquired two years ago from Temple Hotels Inc by O’Chiese Hospitality Limited Partnership, an arm of the O’Chiese First Nation, the 241-room property was strategically targeted as a part of the organization’s economic development scheme. Notably, the establishment of the casino was seen as a stepping stone towards fostering further growth and development in the region.

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For George Yammine, CEO of O’Chiese Business and Investment Centre, the culmination was a pivotal part of their journey. “Our casino will play a crucial role in boosting tourism and driving economic growth in Red Deer. The aim is to evolve this hub into an eminent epicenter for entertainment that stretches beyond the local vicinity,” emphasizes Yammine.

O’Chiese, previously an impactful investor in Edmonton’s residential rental market, saw in the Red Deer hotel a lucrative chance to diversify its income-generating assets. Chief Douglas Beaverbones of O’Chiese remarked during the hotel’s acquisition announcement, “This represents a well-calculated risk on our part that holds promise for rewards when we overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The hotel’s sparkling 38,000 square-foot casino represents a relocation of the existing Jackpot Casino, claimed by O’Chiese in 2017. Table games have been added via renovations, as confirmed by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Cannabis (AGLC).

O’Chiese hasn’t stopped at the casino. They have also renovated the property’s guest rooms and executed the demolition of two clubs on the resort’s east side.

Alberta’s casino operators, including O’Chiese, would agree that the end of pandemic restrictions on public gathering and events has ushered in an era of prosperity for the industry. For example, AGLC charts a whopping spike in charitable gaming proceeds, escalating from $495 million to $1.2 billion in the last fiscal year. The sector also celebrates a nearly half increment in net sales in both video lottery terminals and slot gaming.

The opening in Red Deer isn’t an isolated incident but part of the broader investment trajectory in Alberta’s casino operations. Recently, Calgary’s Ace Casino transitioned to a new location near the Calgary International Airport, and last year, Kurt Belich unveiled an expanded 88-slot casino in the Track on 2 entertainment centre in Lacombe.

New York-based Vici Properties Inc. has also shown interest in Alberta, scooping four properties from Century Casinos Inc. and another four jewels from PURE Canadian Gaming Corp. The highlighted deals promised appealing long-term lease revenues to Vici, while casino operations remained with the original owners.