Casino New Brunswick opened its doors in the city of Moncton in May. The new million facility features 500 slot machines, 22 table games, a high-limit room and a poker room. An entertainment and convention center with a hotel and spa will open in June.
The city should realize around $600,000 in annual property taxes from the casino. But according to City Councillor Daniel Bourgeois, extra municipal costs to support the casino will mean the money is simply “invested again” in law enforcement and social services.
“The provincial government will make $25 million out of it per year,” he told CBC News. “That’s good for them, but for the city it’s a wash.”
Some are not so pessimistic. Moncton’s economic development specialist, Ben Champoux, told CBC the casino “has been key in us allowing us to enjoy a record year in 2009, when everyone else was talking about a recession.” The casino helped the city draw $217 million in building permits last year, Champoux said.
Marc Belliveau of the provincial Department of Finance is also optimistic. “We think it’s going to help to bring some business to New Brunswick, to the Moncton region certainly, and create 400 jobs, so the spin-offs associated with this kind of gaming center are very, very positive for the province,” he told the Canadian News.
Yale Belanger of the Alberta Gaming Research Institute says Casino New Brunswick should do well because of low market saturation in the region.
“The competition just isn’t there in Atlantic Canada,” Belanger told the Saint John Telegraph Journal. “There are eight casinos in Calgary alone, and about 26 in the entire province of Alberta are in operation.
“The history in Canada is ultimately that few of these institutions fail or close, and when that happens it’s more due to market saturation than natural economic tribulations.”
According to Casino New Brunswick Manager Steve Hancock, about 600,000 visitors a year are expected at the casino. Hancock said he’s getting calls “from Quebec and Ontario, wondering when we’re opening and what kind of gaming mix we’re going to have.”
That could be bad news for two casinos on Prince Edward Island. Government officials there are already projecting a 17 percent drop in gaming revenues this year.
“We’ve been looking at this for almost a year and a half now and we’ve taken quite a few steps to try and shore up our operation here on Prince Edward Island,” Finance Minister Wes Sheridan told CBC News.
Among those steps: rebranding the old racinos as full-fledged casinos. The facilities now go by the name Red Shores Racetrack and Casino.