Hard Rock looking to improve fortunes at Ottawa’s Rideau Carleton Raceway casino

  • Hard Rock has big expansion plans for the Rideau Carleton track and casino
  • Red tape should not stop new jobs, boosted revenues and improved experience for players

According to the announcement by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming, Hard Rock International has become the new operator of the Rideau Carleton racetrack, Ottawa, together with the casino and other facilities located at the site, including the hotel and restaurant.

Hard Rock is taking over the Ottawa Rideau Carleton Raceway casino. Picture: Supplied
Hard Rock is taking over the Ottawa Rideau Carleton Raceway casino. An artist’s impression of the venue.

The agreement will see Hard Rock take 51% of the stake in the venture, while the track will still own the 49%, making this a partnership in which Hard Rock has a slightly bigger say.

Impressive vision for the future

The chairman of Hard Rock Jim Allen has big dreams for Rideau Carleton. The company plans to add to the already rich offer by expanding the hotel capacities and building a music venue with no less than 2,000 seats. At the same time, they plan to continue nurturing horse racing as the driving force behind the venue, which makes the current director of the raceway Andrew Wright all that more excited about future prospects.

For Hard Rock, the Rideau Carleton property represents a great opportunity for the expansion. According to Allen, Ottawa represents a gambling market with a lot of potential, and his company is clearly intent on fully taking advantage of that fact.

Working around the red tape

Hard Rock’s expansion plans don’t come without expected administrative red tape to deal with. Current regulations only allow 1,250 slots and 21 table games to be situated in the racetrack area. This represents a serious hindrance to plans which include a gaming space covering 13,000 square meters.

The Hard Rock chairman understands these limitations and he explains that the company isn’t quite banking on the regulations being changed to favor their plans. Instead, they want to take things one step at the time and see how far they get.

At the same time, the city of Ottawa makes 4% from revenues generated by table games, so allowing Hard Rock to expand could help fill city’s coffers. The city council has expressed their openness to considering any applications Hard Rock submits in the future, which must be a significant encouragement for the company.

In addition to the gaming revenues, such an expansion would also help create jobs for the locals. According to some estimates, the planned expansion would generate around 1,900 construction jobs, accompanied by some 2,000 permanent and part-time jobs once the works are completed. So, while Hard Rock will still have to deal with some red tape and bureaucracy along the way, they have good odds of seeing they plans through and boosting their presence in the Ottawa region.

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