Comparing the casino experience around the world

As discussion about a new GTA gaming entertainment centre continues, there is a natural tendency to compare the gaming experience in other jurisdictions as a way of predicting what the experience might be in Ontario. In some cities casinos are the main tourist attraction and in others casinos are part of an integrated mix of entertainment options. Atlantic City is an example of a community where gaming is the main tourist attraction. It has 12 casinos, 29,000 slots, 1,700 table games, and employs 32,000 people in these facilities. But a look at the surrounding area shows the casinos are not well integrated into the community.   This is not what is being suggested for the GTA. In the GTA, gaming would not be the only attraction, but rather it would be part of a wide mix of entertainment offerings in the area. And, what is envisioned for the GTA is not just a casino, but a gaming entertainment centre with hotel, retail and convention space.  It would be about gaming, but equally important would be hospitality, entertainment and retail. It would also broaden the region’s appeal and capacity for conventions, business travel and tourism. It could be a real driver for growth, investment and development in the GTA.  The GTA has a lot more in common with a place like Greater Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne has a population of 4 million and one major casino in its downtown core. At 5.5 million square feet, The Crown Casino has 1,600 hotel rooms and 16 restaurants. It covers two full city blocks. It employs about 10,000 people. Right next door, is the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre—the largest in southern hemisphere.  This year, Melbourne was ranked as the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Magazine.  Cleveland, Ohio is another example of a city where a casino is part of a broad entertainment mix. The Greater Cleveland Area has a population of just over 2 million people. According to a recent Globe and Mail report, more than 11 million people are expected to visit downtown Cleveland this year – twice the number of just two years ago. Driving the increase in tourism is a new casino and a new Cleveland Museum of Art, in addition to a number of other tourist attractions, like a $465-million convention centre, a $33-million aquarium, and a Museum of Contemporary Art.  For a comparison of Atlantic City and Melbourne, visit Casino Integration.