Caesars 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 Harrah's 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 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-storey hotel (nicknamed "Augustus" ), a 5,000 seat entertainment centre, and 100,000 square feet (9,300 m 2) 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 are being 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 world-famous pianist Billy Joel who performed at the re-launch ceremonies to an invitation-only crowd.

The first Casino Windsor opened in a temporary location in September 1994, as Ontario's first casino. The former Art Gallery of Windsor located on Riverside Drive was refitted to house the interim Casino Windsor. The permanent casino and hotel was opened to the public on July 29, 1998 a few blocks west of the temporary 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. 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. On February 14, 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 new 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 of Canada. 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.

Business climate
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. Caesars Windsor is popular with some 19 and 20-year-old Americans because the drinking age in Ontario is 19 compared to 21 in the US. Gambling in Detroit is also set to age 21.

Photo gallery
  • The new hotel addition as the Caesars branding is evident from Detroit.
  • New hotel tower begins to take its place alongside the first.

Building Activity

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