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September 9, 2004

Developers buying up land in anticipation of move

Montreal casino shuffles the deck on relocation

BY IRWIN RAPOPORT

DCN CORRESPONDENT

MONTREAL

It’s a choice of staying put and expanding or relocating to the Peel basin and building a larger facility for the Casino de Montreal.

And according to Loto- Quebec spokesman Jean- Pierre Roy, the agency is expected to provide a final recommendation to the government of Quebec by the end of 2004.

“We commissioned studies on both scenarios by experts—sketches and costs,” he said. “We’ll do our own analysis and come up with a final recommendation by the end of the year.”

Should the casino remain at the site of the former French pavilion at the Expo 67 grounds, the plan is to build a 100-room hotel, do extensive renovations to the multi-level building and increase the seating capacity of the theatre from 500 people.

If moved to the Peel basin, a new casino complex would be built with a theatre capable of seating 1,250 and a variety of restaurants, all of which would be linked to a 200 to 300-room hotel and a convention centre.

The basin area itself is bounded partially by the Lachine Canal and the Wellington Bridge, and is an enclosed site that is removed from residential neighbourhoods but is also close to the old port and can be accessed by those staying at major downtown hotels.

Staying put would limit the amount of expansion as there if very little room for growth.

While Loto-Quebec is awaiting estimates for the costs of both options, another $20 million of renovations to the current casino are going forward. The studies should be in Loto-Quebec’s hands this fall.

In anticipation of a move to the Peel basin, developers have already begun to purchase property where the casino may relocate. Roy said that a new casino would most likely retain the current setup of 120 gaming tables and 3,000 VLTs and slot machines.

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