Customers at the View Royal Casino are getting to know the gaming facility’s parkade pretty well these days, with construction work well underway on the $20-million expansion project.
Heavy equipment and materials line the surface parking lot at the popular venue, which has had its north end removed – it contained the restaurant, Penny Lane lounge and several dozen slots – to make way for a 600-seat entertainment venue and other new amenities.
Interviewed in his office upstairs from the hustle and bustle of the gaming floor, Chris Lynn, executive director for Vancouver Island for casino owner Great Canadian Gaming Corp., said he’s heard from regulars and casual gamblers alike about the project and its impact on the facility’s offerings.
“Everybody’s excited about the end result,” he said. “Sometimes the inconveniences of not having all the amenities that they’re used comes to the forefront, but I think everybody’s been pretty understanding and is super excited about what we’re going to become.”
Great Canadian has an ambitious works plan for the two-phase project.
Phase 1, which includes a renovation and expansion of the main gaming floor with more high-limit tables, will see a 150-seat buffet and lounge area added, plus a 20-seat quick service restaurant.
“We’re hoping to have that done in December of this year,” Lynn said, noting the company is “pretty comfortable” with that time frame. The second phase involves more non-gaming amenities, primarily the theatre, to which Great Canadian hopes to attract a broad range of entertainment options, Lynn noted. “Our goal is to be the best in live and local entertainment in Victoria and have something for everyone.”
For the renovation and expansion of View Royal, Great Canadian is drawing on its varied experiences on the mainland, where it operates an eclectic mix of properties, from Chances slot machine centres to the River Rock Casino Resort and Hard Rock Casino Vancouver.
Part of that freshening up of the product will likely include a name change, although Lynn said that decision has not yet been finalized. No doubt, it’ll be the atmosphere and the offerings that will keep the existing customers and bring new people into the building.
For the most part, he said, people are most excited about the non-gaming amenities, but also anticipate “a new look and feel in the place … people are going to be super impressed with the finished product.”
As the demolition process began in mid-February, there was a sense among some that the casino was closed, but some additional signage and lighting at the front of the property helped dispel that perception.
And one might expect business to be down given the smaller environment, but Lynn said surprisingly, the casino is doing slightly better than last year. That scenario bodes well for the West Shore municipalities and First Nations which share in a portion of the revenues from the casino.
The B.C. Lottery Corporation, which oversees gaming in the province, is pursuing a second, albeit smaller casino for Greater Victoria, likely somewhere in downtown Victoria. Great Canadian is considering bidding on the project once the parameters are established, but has not yet made a decision on whether to do so, Lynn said.
Anyone wishing to observe the progress on the expansion can find photos and other information at newiscoming.com.