The new operator for casinos across Northern Ontario wants to build a ‘premier casino and entertainment property’ on the proposed True North Strong development.

In a media release issued on Tuesday, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment said it has signed a letter of intent with True North Strong to build a casino.

Sudbury Wolves owner Dario Zulich is heading up efforts to build a new events centre on a piece of property located on the Kingsway East in Greater Sudbury.

“Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited is the leading gaming and entertainment operator in Canada,” said Zulich, True North Strong president.

"We believe that when combined with a new event centre and hotel/convention space, this new, full-service, upscale casino will be a valuable and exciting addition that will complete a multi-faceted regional entertainment district.”

Gateway said the proposed casino and entertainment property will feature gaming floor and multiple dining and culinary options.

The $60 million planned investment will bring up to 250 new jobs, which will grow the Gateway work force in Greater Sudbury to over 400 employees.

In addition to the long-term investment, the project will result in approximately 700 person-years of construction employment.

“Gateway is very excited to take this important step forward in bringing a major investment and up to 250 new jobs to Greater Sudbury,” said Keith Andrews, Gateway vice president and managing director of Ontario operations.

“The True North Strong proposal envisions creating a vibrant regional entertainment district.  A Gateway property in the district is a perfect complement to this dynamic development.”

“It's been a lot of hard work to see things come together, but they are coming together and it's exciting to see the potential for a regional entertainment district for northeastern Ontario,” said Andrew Dale, Sudbury Wolves Sports and Entertainment.

Gateway said Tuesday’s announcement marks the first step in a multi-step process towards redevelopment and relocation of the existing casino; which Gateway took over from OLG on May 30th. 

Construction will begin once all necessary approvals are complete, including municipal consent.

 “I think this is a game changer for the City of Greater Sudbury and really, it's a sign to the rest of the province and the rest of the country that Sudbury is booming,” said Robert Kirwin, a Sudbury city councillor.

Later this month, city council will decided where to build its new events centre and arena.

Kirwan said now that the casino has signed on, that should be an easy choice.

“It's the ideal spot for a new arena,” he said.

“If we do it on the Kingsway, we'll be able to redevelop the downtown and revive the downtown at the same time.”

Gateway anticipates the property will open in the spring of 2020.

In the meantime, Gateway said it will continue to work with the track owner at Sudbury Downs as Gateway takes over the day-to-day operations and launches the Gateway brand in Greater Sudbury.