Edmonton’s newest casino  — the replacement for the ageing Baccarat Casino — will not push gambling and instead will focus on entertainment and hospitality, according to Tony Santano, CEO of Gateway and Entertainment.

Santano toured the site early last month for the Grand Villa Edmonton directly in-front of the Rodgers Place. He expects the casino to open in September, if scheduled worked goes ahead as planned.

“We are happy with the progress, it is coming along.” “There are over 150 workers on the property right now and there is about that many working two shifts per day.”

Owning both the Baccarat and the Grand Villa Edmonton, there were worries that one would be the direct replica of the other. Santo has ensured The Baccarat is a unique and exciting project.

Understanding that The Baccarat is an outdated facility, Santo believes that it doesn’t reflect the future of the casino market.

‘It’s a night and day difference. The casino has just one restaurant. It is really just slots in a box.’

With three restaurants and a dedicated food court, there’s going to be plenty of places to eat at the Grand Villa.

Music to the ears of many, the new building is receiving a complete upgrade.

“This is like a Yugo [a much-maligned car built in eastern Europe]. You’re going to be looking at a Ferrari and that’s the best I can explain it.”

Santo believes that casinos can no longer thrive by offering mere gambling services — they need to be a hub of excitement.

“What we are really trying to do is to appeal to another type of customer and that’s the person who wants to be entertained, whose primary goal is not to gamble, but to be entertained”

Responsible gambling is also an important matter which Santo takes seriously and has ensured that the AGLC will be consulted to ensure resources about responsible gambling are available.

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