Niagara Falls is worried. Big time. The city, which has relied on two casinos to attract tourists for decades, now faces new competition. No, not from a new casino across the Rainbow Bridge. Seneca Casino already exists just 1.1 miles down the street and across the river.
The two Niagara Falls, Canada casinos and the US casino have managed to coexist for years, competing for different segments of business. But now Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino are facing new competition from within Canada.
Just an hour in Toronto sits a racetrack called Woodbine. It’s near the airport, in a part of town that’s in need of revitalization. The casino has featured slots for decades, but no table games.
But a recent vote by the City of Toronto is about the change the dynamic of the whole area, and the entire casino competition scene within an 80-mile span. Toronto City council voted 25-19 to permit Woodbine Racetrack to expand. The move gives Woodbine permission to up the slot machine count from 2,700 to 5,000 and add up to 300 table games. There are now no table games there. None.
The move would make Woodbine the largest casino in the province of Ontario, eclipsing Fallsview Casino’s size and scope.
Niagara Falls is upset by the move, primarily because the province has ignored the city’s request to help modernize Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino to better compete against Seneca. The province has ignored that request and now the two Niagara casinos are facing increased competition from Toronto.
The city is angry, but I don’t believe rightfully so. People come to Niagara Falls, not just for the casinos, but for a getaway. Visitors can essentially be slotted into three categories — families, couples, and bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Families come to Niagara Falls for the indoor waterparks, to see the Falls, and to stay overnight before crossing the border for a day of shopping (though with the low Canadian Dollar, many people are now choosing to shop in Canada, which is a good thing for Niagara Falls). Families enjoy the food, the entertainment (there’s a Vegas-caliber magician with his own theatre in Niagara Falls), and the fun of Clifton Hill.
Couples come to Niagara Falls because it’s romantic. There are gorgeous hotel rooms on the Canadian side overlooking the falls. There are loads of spas. And for the gambling couple, you’ve got your choice of casino. The food is phenomenal, so it’s perfect no matter what you’re celebrating.
And for decades, Niagara Falls has been the go-to town for bachelor and bachelorette parties, thanks to all the clubs, both naughty and nice. It’s basically Vegas North for people in Toronto, not to mention Americans in the surrounding region.
Even with casino expansion in Toronto, Niagara Falls won’t fall apart, nor will their casinos take much of a hit. Niagara Falls is bigger than that in the rush of the water overflowing outside the windows of the two casinos will always be a magnet more so than anything in Toronto could ever be. Now if Toronto happens to create one of the Wonders of the World, well, that’s a different story.