Are you familiar with Wasaga Beach? If you live anywhere near Toronto, Canada, I’m willing to bet you are. In the summer months, it’s the go-to destination for teenagers and 20-somethings looking to party.
It’s also the home to retirees, as is popular ski-town Collingwood, which is about a 15-minute drive from Wasaga. And that combination might make it a prime opportunity for Canada’s next big casino destination.
The Ontario Lottery Corporation has decided to put a casino either in Collingwood or Wasaga, but a new plan by a developer could see Wasaga as the choice that makes the most sense.
John Simmonds, a businessman who has experiences developing golf courses among other things, has presented a concept to bring a 300-slot casino property to Wasaga. Also slated to go on the property is a 300-room hotel, an indoor waterpark, and fractional ownership units.
Originally with his sights set on Collingwood, Simmonds has shifted his focus to Wasaga because of a drawn out and frustrating political process.
Personally, as someone who used to frequent Toronto to visit family in the summers, I really don’t see the need for a casino in either community. Casino Rama is about an hour’s drive – not very far by any stretch of the imagination. Collingwood already has that ski-town vibe going for it. I’m not sure a casino really fits in with the lifestyle.
And Wasaga, while popular among the retired set, seems like an odd location for a casino. But I could be wrong.
Before Fallsview Casino opened in Niagara Falls, I thought that Niagara was a poor choice for a casino, given its relative tackiness (I’m looking at you Clifton Hill, not to mention all those UFO hotels on Lundy’s Lane). But Fallsview revitalized an otherwise run-of-the-mill corner of Niagara into an upscale gambler’s paradise.
If a casino does go in, I think it needs to launch with more than just slots. Table games might be added later, but for me, that’s not good enough. There are enough slots racinos in Ontario. A full-fledged casino is the only way to go in my opinion.
Otherwise, Wasaga will remain a weekender’s paradise instead of a 365-day resort attraction that the casino developers are hoping for.