Not just blackjack and slots.
The $25-million Cascades Casino officially opened today in Penticton and is excited to shake off the stigma of being a dark place of whirling machines to a family-friendly entertainment destination.
“This new facility is something very proud of. It really enhances and embodies all that we are trying to do with gaming in creating an entertainment destination, not slots in a box which is what we had at Lakeshore,” said Tony Santo, senior vice-president of Gateway Casinos. “The key for us is to have somebody come to this facility have a great time, enjoy dinner with your 10-year-old son in the buffet or in Match and if you gamble fine and if you don’t that is OK too. We really want people to look at this as a place where they can be entertained and this is what we think we have delivered to the city of Penticton.”
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit pointed out that the South Okanagan Events Centre wouldn’t be standing just behind the new casino if there wasn’t a casino in Penticton. He said it will generate $100 million for the city over the next 40 years.
“This really solidifies this area as an entertainment hub. With the events centre, convention centre, we are in close proximity to downtown, to the motel the beach,” said Jakubeit. “Regardless if you are a gambler or not, when you walk in there is great options here. It creates yet another destination for Penticton that we can be excited and proud about.”
Jakubeit said the new casino also means more jobs in the community. Cascades was targeting 150 new hires, bringing them to over 300 employees.
A busy weekend is ahead in Penticton with the Okanagan Fest of Ale and the band Weezer playing at the SOEC. Parking concerns have been risen by many in the city. Michael Magnusson, general manager of Cascades Casino, said plans have already been made to help get people to the where they want to be without any hassles. B.C. Transit shuttles are planned to pick up people at city hall, Patio Burger and the SS Sicamous this weekend. As well, Cascades has their own free shuttle which picks up at Walmart (20 minutes past the hour), Safeway (30 minutes past the hour) and the Penticton Lakeside (40 minutes past the hour) to the casino on Friday (noon to 1 a.m.), Saturday (9 a.m. to 1 a.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m. to 11 p.m.).
“We are also making all our staff park at the bingo hall area and we are looking at leasing an off-site parking area just in case the bingo hall does sell, because it is for sale. We want to make sure our staff aren’t taking up customer spots or concert-goers spots,” he said.
With 45,000 square feet of entertainment space featuring a gaming floor, entertainment and culinary options to suit any taste including Gateway’s signature restaurants — The buffet and Match Eatery and Public House, which will feature the brand’s first rooftop patio.
“I really like Match, as an operator I really like the ability to reward our players with a dining experience … to be able offer incentives to come in, to offer discounts to come in. For instance if you ride the city bus that is doing the loop to Weezer to help offset some of the parking concerns you are going to get a $5 gift certificate for Match or the buffet. It allows us to reach out to the community , allows us to be a good neighbour to the SOEC and allows us to give something to give something to Penticton they haven’t had before,” said Magnusson.
With views of the SOEC complex and highway into the city, the rooftop patio also features a bocce court, fire pits with lounge chairs and misting machines for hot summer nights.
Magnusson said Match Eatery is a great place for friends or family to gather to watch the big game, to play pool, shuffleboard and they even have board games to play at the tables.
“If you are here we want you to enjoy yourself, converse with each other and if you are watching the game you will find a TV everywhere. You should be able to see three TVs no matter where you are sitting,” said Magnusson, adding that they will have live entertainment every weekend.
Burned into the sides of the tables are sayings with a local flair. “I gotta to do it my way or no way at all” is etched into one table — lyrics from the Loverboy song Turn Me Loose, who Penticton’s Mike Reno was the lead singer of.
“On the tables, or the walls, there are things that refer to Penticton or quotes from people from Penticton. In the case of ‘I don’t train to look good’ is of course from Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks who played in Penticton,” said Magnusson.
The buffet, with seating for over 150 people including a patio area, will have a six day rotation with different themes, so it keeps it fresh and new every day.
The gaming floor features 400 of the newest and latest slot machines and 11 gaming tables including the return of live roulette. Front and centre when entering the gaming area is a Ford Mustang GT convertible, which players can try their luck at on a slot machine.
The Cascades of Cash promotion kicked off on April 5, where you could instantly win $1 million just by swiping your Encore Rewards card. The promotion also includes daily instant win prizing of food and beverage, cash, player points and bonus ballots.
As part of the GatewayGIVES program, Cascades will be fundraising for the YES Project until April 30. A portion of the sales from their signature Peach Mule drink and any style of wings will go to the YES Project. Locally the GatewayGIVES effort has donated over $131,000 to charitable and non-profit organizations since 2014.