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New North Bay casino opens with lineup


North Bay’s new casino opened Wednesday afternoon to a long line outside the door as gamers waited patiently to hit the slots and card tables.

Among those waiting outside was Frank McNamara.

Excited gamers lined up outside Cascades Casino in North Bay opening day. Mar. 9/22 (Eric Taschner/CTV Northern Ontario)

I’ve been waiting a long time," he said. "I’m very excited to see it opening."

McNamara told CTV News he thinks the casino is going to give the local economy a boost.

"I think we’ll have a lot of people from down south coming up. It looks like a nice place," he said.

Priscilla Desjardins was behind him waiting in line too.

"Well, now I don’t have to run to Casino Rama to play every time," she said. "I mostly play the slot machines."

Before opening to the public at 5 p.m., the casino opened its doors to high rollers an hour earlier. One of them is Brian Beninger.

Brian and Toni Beninger were given advance 'high roller' entry at North Bay's new casino on opening day. Mar. 9/22 (Eric Taschner/CTV Northern Ontario)

Decked out in a three-piece suit with a necktie and shoes that have playing cards on them, Beninger said he has travelled the world playing casinos.

Brian Beninger wore his card shoes and tie on opening day of the North Bay casino. Mar. 9/22 (Eric Taschner/CTV Northern Ontario)

"Grandpa Brian’s the name, blackjack’s my game," he chuckled. "It’s the best game in the house for the player’s odds. It’s a clean and intelligent game."

Beninger said he is excited to have a "community casino" in the city. He has waited in anticipation for the doors to open ever since construction started all the way back in May 2019.

"Every time I’d go by here, I’m sticking my nose in, watching the progress of the construction," he said. "For me, this is a community site. I’m all about community."

Beninger, who just lives about a five-minute drive away, recalled his most memorable time in a casino: reeling in $10,000 when his wife, Toni, said he could gamble $200.

"On one of my birthdays, it was in Victoria, British Columbia, in the community casino there," he said. "I sat down and started playing my blackjack. Two hours later, I walked out with $10,000."

Hiring is mostly completed and the casino said most of the employees will be local hires. The $41-million casino will employ 200 people.

The 39,000 square foot facility is equipped with 300 machines, 10 electronic tables, six blackjack and roulette tables and an adjacent restaurant called The Match Eatery.

A bar overlooks the gaming floor and there’s a place called the 'Play Smart Centre' to teach customers about responsible gambling.

"It’s really a unique design. The place is entirely purposed for entertainment," said Rob Mitchell, a spokesperson for Gateway Casinos.

Officials want to hit home that the facility is not just for the high rollers, but for everyone.

"You don’t need to be specifically a gamer to come here and have a good time," Mitchell said.

An outdoor patio can seat guests as well. It has gas fireplaces and on hot summer days, misting machines can cool customers while they sit outside.

"You can feel the electricity in the air from our staff right now," said James Sweeney, the restaurant’s general manager. "The last few weeks we’ve been doing tastings to allow all our staff to try our food."

The casino will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays with the hope of moving to a 24/7 facility down the line if the demand is there. Top Stories

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