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Canadian Casino Industry Sees Slowdown

Friday, July 21, 2006

CANADA -- As reported by the Globe and Mail: "The rising dollar, soaring gas prices and tighter restrictions on smoking are hurting Canada's casino industry, which is already losing ground to
  on-line upstarts.

"Yesterday, Casino Windsor laid off 329 employees, roughly 8 per cent of its total work force. Revenue at the casino has been falling steadily this year but business has been slowing down even more recently because of a provincial smoking ban which took effect on June 1. Prior to that date, Ontario's big casinos were largely exempt from anti-smoking rules.

"Holly Ward, a spokeswoman for the casino, said the smoking ban was only one factor in the layoffs. She said high gas prices, the stronger loonie and tighter scrutiny at the border have also hurt business. About 80 per cent of the patrons of the Windsor casino come from Detroit, which now has three of its own casinos.

"…In a recent report, Moody's Investors Service Inc. cited the smoking ban in Ontario as a significant boost for the Detroit casinos, which have also seen a slowdown this year.

"…Casinos across the country are facing similar issues, said Bill Rutsey, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Gaming Association, which represents casinos, race tracks, video lottery terminal operators and bingo halls.

"…North American casinos have been expanding into new areas, such as entertainment, conventions and hotels, as a way of diversifying revenue from betting. Over all, many analysts say the industry has enjoyed strong results recently, but it could be in for a fall if consumer spending continues to slow…"

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