|Location||377 Riverside Drive East
|Opening date||July 29, 1998|
|Number of rooms||389 room Forum Tower & 369 room Augustus Tower|
|Total gaming space||9,290 m2 (100,000 sq ft)|
|Permanent shows||5,000 seat Colosseum at Caesars Windsor|
|Owner||Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation|
|Operating license holder||Caesars Entertainment Corporation|
|Previous names||Casino Windsor|
Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario is one of four casinos in the Detroit–Windsor area. Owned by the government of the province of Ontario (through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation), it is operated by Caesars Entertainment. Both the original Casino Windsor and the new expansion were designed by WZMH Architects. The casino is located on Windsor's riverfront overlooking the Detroit skyline near the Canadian end of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The creation of this casino was a leading factor in the legalization of casino gambling in Detroit.
The "Forum" hotel tower stands at 23 stories tall and opened in 1998. The "Augustus" tower stands at 27 stories and opened in 2008. Caesars Windsor attracts about six million visitors annually. Its main competitors are MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino in Detroit. Caesars Windsor attracts people from Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and other states in the Midwest United States.
The Casino is publicly owned by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation; a large portion of the profits are returned to the provincial government.
In December 2006, Harrah's announced that it would change the name of the casino to Caesars Windsor. The name switch coincided with a number of other significant changes, including a new 27-story hotel (the "Augustus Tower"), a 5,000 seat entertainment centre, and 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of convention space.
The changes were necessary to make the casino more desirable to U.S. gamblers. For a variety of reasons: 9/11 border security, closing of the exchange rate gap, a labour strike that closed the casino for a month in 2004, the popularity of the three Detroit properties, and provincial smoking ban, Caesars Windsor has failed to maintain its customer base from its peak years in the late 1990s. Before September 11, 2001, it was the most popular casino in the Detroit market. Efforts were made to make it a destination resort for tourists, and to reward clients of the Caesars brand, a high-end name in gaming. Caesars Windsor reopened on June 19, 2008, and featured pianist Billy Joel, who performed at the relaunch ceremonies to an invitation-only crowd.
Casino Windsor opened in a temporary location in May 1994 as Ontario's first casino. The former Art Gallery of Windsor located on Riverside Drive was refitted to house the interim casino. The casino saw record numbers, attracting millions of customers from the U.S. and Canada. Line-ups wrapped around the building. In response, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation announced it would bring a riverboat casino to the riverfront. The Northern Belle was located at the foot of Ouellette Ave. on the Detroit River. It was open from December 1995 to July 1998.
During this time, the permanent casino was under construction on the former Windsor Market site, a few blocks west of the temporary casino. It opened on July 29, 1998, with a grand opening celebration with a James Bond 007 theme. Daisy Fuentes and Regis Philbin were among the stars that attended. The new site included a waterfall and tropical entrance, hotel, five restaurants, gift shops and an entertainment lounge.
In February 2005, representatives from the Ontario Government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, and the executive team announced a $400 million expansion project which was completed in June 2008. It added a convention centre, a 5,000-seat entertainment centre, and another hotel tower. Renovations also began at the current facility, adding bars, a large buffet, and repositioning many of the slots and table games. The official relaunch happened on June 19, 2008.
In 2006, the first licensed sports book in Canada was opened in the casino at Legends Sports Bar. Players can bet on select professional and college sports through Game Picks sports wagering. The venue is designed with booths and large high-definition televisions above the gaming boards as well as in a theatre style seating section. Unlike in Las Vegas, players are not allowed wager on single sporting events at the sports book - the reason for this is that single-sports wagering remains explicitly prohibited in the Criminal Code).
Effective May 31, 2006, Casino Windsor became one of the few smoke-free commercial casinos in North America. This was to comply with the Smoke Free Ontario Act, which bans smoking in all enclosed workplaces and public places. Prior to the Caesars branding, Steelman Partners designed all of the high-limit gaming.
Initially, the US-Canadian currency exchange rate had given people from the United States an economic incentive to gamble at Caesars Windsor. The exchange rate was a major contributor to U.S. gamblers crossing the border in Casino Windsor's boom years of the late 1990s. The Canadian dollar was trading below the sixty-five-cent mark compared to the U.S. dollar in the late 1990s, giving U.S. visitors a price incentive to gamble in Windsor as well as spend in the city's hotels and hospitality establishments. The rebounding of the Canadian dollar, in 2006 breaking the ninety-cent mark, which is often linked to the higher price of oil, since Canada is an oil exporting nation, has negatively impacted the casino and the Windsor tourist trade, especially when the added sales taxes are factored into decisions. Nevertheless, because the Canadian government does not tax gambling winnings, the casino often promotes this in order to draw clientele from the United States who are left to themselves to declare taxes on their winnings.
In 2007, the Canadian dollar eclipsed and even exceeded the U.S. dollar by several cents, which has added to the decline of the Windsor, Ontario hospitality sector. The casino must compete with three Detroit casino resorts which opened expanded resort-style properties in 2008. The positive exchange rate for Canadians has drawn them across the border to shop and gamble, and Windsor has joined other cities in North America in a recession.
View of new hotel tower from Marriott Hotel in the Detroit Ren Cen in April 2008
- List of casinos in Canada
- Harrah's Entertainment
- Caesars Palace
- Caesars Atlantic City
- Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
- Greektown Casino Hotel
- MotorCity Casino Hotel
- MGM Grand Detroit
- Cordiano, Joseph (February 15, 2005). Government of Ontario invests in a competitive Casino Windsor.Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. Retrieved on October 28, 2007."Caesars Windsor attracts around six million visitors each year and is a key driver of the local economy."
- Friday, June 13th, 2008 edition of the Windsor Star
- The Windsor Star
- "Company news: Caesars, Circus Circus, and Hilton in casino deal". New York Times. 4 December 1993. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Casino Windsor's Company History
- Vander, Chris. "Caesars Windsor 'breathtaking'". The Windsor Star. Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- Bank of Canada rates lookup
- DeBono, Norman. "A city on the ropes" 20 October 2007. (Accessed 30 October 2007)
Media related to Caesars Windsor at Wikimedia Commons
- Caesars Windsor
- Casino Windsor at Emporis.com
- Casino Windsor Hotel Tower II "Augustus" at Emporis.com
- SkyscraperPage.com's Profile on Casino Windsor