Extended downtown casino closures cost province, Edmonton charities millions
Grand Villa Casino closed for extended periods of time between March 17, 2020 and July 18, 2022. The extended closure added six weeks to fundraising event wait times for local charities. It cost AGLC and its general revenue fund between roughly $3.8 million and $4.5 million. A new licence condition was imposed earlier this year, but the board sided with the company.
AGLC removed 57 slot machines from Grand Villa in February. The new licence condition required the casino to operate slot and table games seven days a week, running slots at least 14 hours per day for slots and tables 10 hours a day. Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited applied for a hearing on Sept. 26. Board chair Len Rhodes and members Vincent Vavrek and Jack Fujino voted to remove the new condition.
Grand Villa reduced operations from September 2019 until March 2020. AGLC says all other casinos operate seven days a week. Charitable gaming revenue provides the Good Women Dance Collective with more money than the city and provincial governments. The dance collective lost about a year's worth of income because of casino closures during the pandemic. The licence condition was recommended to the board to make sure the casino operated in line with others.
Grand Villa reduced operations in 2019, closing on slow days and capitalizing on increased traffic during Rogers Place event days. The company's legal team argued the licence condition unduly constrained the casino's ability to be flexible with operational times. Grand Villa must give AGLC and charities two weeks' notice of any forthcoming hours changes.