Future of downtown Baccarat Casino remains uncertain

The downtown casino that sits in the shadow of the cranes and the new arena construction is still open for business — but some local politicians are hoping it won’t be for too long.

The casino is still open, despite the downtown arena construction going on next door

The Baccarat Casino remains open while construction on the new downtown arena continues next door. (CBC News)

A downtown casino that sits in the shadow of the cranes and new arena construction is still open for business — but some local politicians are hoping it won’t be for too long.

The Baccarat Casino, a fixture in Edmonton’s downtown for almost 18 years, remains open despite all the noise next door.

“It was once described as Edmonton’s ugliest building,” said Ward 6 city councillor Scott McKeen.

“I think there are a few others in the running, but it’s not a particularly illuminating or inspiring building, that’s for sure.”

Casino management is trying to let the public know it is not closed. There’s a sign hanging on the side of the building that reads “still open.” 

City councillors want something else

McKeen said he spoke to the architect of the casino, who he said admitted the Baccarat Casino was supposed to be a much more elaborate building until the developers “cheaped out” on the final design.

The Baccarat Casino is trying to let people know they are still open by hanging this sign on the side of the building. (CBC News)

“This is a signature corner,” said McKeen. “You could do something a lot more incredible here than this tired old casino.”

Ward 9 city councillor Bryan Anderson, a longtime critic of the casino, says he is looking forward to the day the building is demolished.

“It was the kind of thing that [former] Mayor [Stephen] Mandel was referring to when he said ‘we can do better, let’s not have any more crap,’” said Anderson.

“To me, it’s crap architecture and one of the intended or unintended consequences of the arena entertainment district project is that this building is going to disappear or will be absorbed.”

Casino hopes to be part of new arena project

Tanya Gabara, a spokesperson for Gateway Casinos, says the group is committed to being part of the arena and entertainment districts.

Whether or not that will happen will be determined during negotiations between the Katz Group, the organization in charge of the $606.5 million arena project, and Gateway Casinos, which owns the Baccarat Casino. 

McKeen said he would be “shocked” if the casino remained open in its current location.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. "I’m optimistic they’ll find a solution that will see the license and the casino move itself into the entertainment district.”

An announcement regarding the Baccarat Casino's future is expected in the next few months.

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