As the province takes its time to select who it wants to run the gambling side of an up-and-coming casino in Sudbury, some developers in the city feel like they’re being forced to play a waiting game.
Casinos are very noisy places but, so far, the process to plan a new one for Sudbury has been pretty quiet — too quiet for some.
"We're kind of taken aback by how little has been done," said the Citadel Group’s Richard Diotte, one of the only Sudbury developers to come out and announce plans for a casino complex.
Diotte is surprised that no one followed his company's lead.
"We came out with our [plans] with the expectation that we would be the benchmark and they would measure everyone else's against ours," he said.
"But so far, we're the only ones out."
Other interested land owners are staying out of the public eye, waiting for the province to select the casino operator in the next few months. That company will then decide where the casino will go.
‘Take the lead’
But Diotte — who is proposing a casino, hotel and convention centre complex for his downtown lot off Elm Street — wants the city to take charge.
"I'm hoping that the city is going to take the lead in this and say, as a community, ‘this is what we expect to get’."
The owners of the downtown Rainbow Centre Mall said months ago they were preparing a casino proposal, but did not respond to interview requests for this story.
Sudbury Downs owner Pat MacIsaac said the best spot for gambling in the city is where it is now — at his Azilda racetrack. He also said Sudbury is likely too small for a resort-style casino with an attached hotel and conference centre.
But Paul Burns from the Canadian Gaming Association said many operators are looking to build entertainment destinations, even in smaller markets.
"It's the clear that the gaming industry is growing, shall we say, off the gaming floor," he said.
Elsewhere in the country there are many casinos attached to theatres, shopping malls and hockey arenas, Burns added.
The debate over where to put a new casino in Sudbury has been going for about eight months.