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The long-mulled expansion of Ottawa’s Hard Rock Rideau Carleton Raceway casino may finally be on the cards, after the city’s rural affairs committee has given developers the green light to proceed with the $318-million project.

With one regulatory hurdle behind its back, Hard Rock will have to focus on receiving approval from city council. If a deal comes to bear, the city will see the project sprawl further, adding 200 rooms and a nine-story hotel along with other facilities intended to guarantee guests’ comfort.

The project will seek to meet demand for slot machines by adding 750 game points and bring the total number to 2,000. However, Hard Rock will have to contribute and improve the local infrastructure if it expects to develop the planned extension.

Preserving the Infrastructure

Beyond the responsibilities that all gambling operators bear, such as rooting out cheating and addiction, Ottawa’s taken a more direct approach towards addressing some of the problems stemming from an increased influx of chance takers.

Amid deteriorating road conditions, the city has decided that the increase in visits occasioned by the expansion will necessitate more maintenance work for the infrastructure.

Hard Rock will have to contribute equally to the overall state of roads in the area, and according to sources, the company has been acquiescent in the matter. However, Jack Stirling, a spokesperson for Hard Rock, cautioned that the company will only assume as much responsibility as its own operations affect the infrastructure. This will be determined with the help of a traffic management study.

The Locals Stand to Benefit

Naturally, casino expansions are always handled differently. The locals will stand to benefit from the multi-million expansion. Over 3,000 jobs in construction will be made available while the project is undergoing. Following the completion of the project, 900 new staff members will be needed.

Hard Rock’s own benefits are not far from modest. Operating at around $5.5 million, the casino expects to double its profit to $12 million upon successful completion of the project.

The windfall for Ontario will be quite significant as well. Funded entirely from the private sector, the Hard Rock casino is expected to generate $206 million in tax revenue for the province.

Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen spoke in favor of the project, sharing the company’s excitement to have the opportunity to contribute towards the vibrant entertainment scene of Ottawa and bring in “million of tourists to the capital every year.”

Upholding the Industry’s Standards

Hard Rock received a resounding approval with five votes in favor and none against. The discussions did not involve discussing potential health concerns, such as gambling addiction, but Hard Rock vice president Jeff Hook was preemptive, briefly reminding of the company’s responsible gaming program.

Mr Hook has been right to point out to the safety initiative championed by the casino at a time when local health organizations have set themselves against the further expansion of casino properties.

Meanwhile, another positive sign was the fact that even local critics of expansion, such as Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans came up with constructive suggestions as to what can be done for the project to be efficient and avert snags further down the road.