Pickering Casino Resort (and Arena) celebrates grand opening (finally) in style


Published April 27, 2023 at 2:05 pm

Photo Glenn Hendry

When the Pickering Casino Resort finally opened its doors in July 2021 the principals behind ‘Las Vegas of the North’ couldn’t really celebrate properly because of the pandemic, which had already delayed the opening for more than a year and would impose several more restrictions and shutdown for another year.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and the $500 million casino and its major players finally got a chance to let their hair down, and they did it with a gala event outside the brand new arena that attracted dignitaries and politicians of all stripes from across Durham Region, along with Durham Live developers Steve and Jim Apostopoulos and executives from casino operators Great Canadian Entertainment and Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation.

More than 300 guests were welcomed with a cocktail reception, followed by speeches from Great Canadian CEO Matthew Anfinson, Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe, Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and OG President & CEO Duncan Hannay, who praised the resort as “the most modern casino in Ontario.”

Ashe then counted down to the ‘big moment’ while surrounded by dignitaries and Anfinson pressed a “cheap plastic button” before confetti rained down on those assembled on stage and the hundreds of people who joined in the festivities.

A dinner reception followed in the PIK, the resort’s private function space (the salmon was sublime) and the evening ended with a concert in the brand new arena by legendary Canadian rocker Bryan Adams.

Anfinson called the event a “long time coming” because of the restrictions in place from the pandemic. The event was officially for the opening of the 2,500-seat arena but was really a party to commemorate the opening of the entire casino, he said.

“We never got a chance to really celebrate the grand opening of the casino,” Anfinson said. “Today marks the opening of the Arena, but it is also a chance to properly celebrate Pickering Casino Resort and declare it officially open.”

Anfinson called it a “special day” and a little “surreal” while Ashe called it a “momentous day” for Pickering.

“We do things a little differently in Pickering,” the Mayor joked. “This was worth the wait.”

The party also included the presentation of a $50,000 donation from Pickering Casino Resort to the Ajax Pickering Hospital Foundation, recognizing their contributions to health care in Durham.

Pickering Casino Resort boasts 2,200 slot machines, 90 table games and 140 stadium gaming terminals, the Great Canadian Sportsbook (a dedicated betting lounge where fans can watch their favourite teams compete) and a 275-room hotel, which includes a wellness centre with wave pool, sauna, fitness facility and business centre.

Dining options – curated by Executive Chef Oliver Heupel, whose resume includes working in Michelin-starred restaurants and cooking for such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth II, the Dalai Lama, Elton John and Tina Turner – include the brand new Copperhorn Meet House, CA·SU·AL, acclaimed Vancouver favourite Sun Sui Wah, Rock House Grill, ZIOs and the PIK private restaurant and function space.

“We are thrilled to be officially unveiling all of our amazing attractions and especially the brand-new Arena at Pickering Casino Resort which will bring a new level of entertainment to the region,” said Anfinson.

Grand Opening festivities continue this weekend as The Arena plays host to a United Boxing Promotions match featuring Brandon ‘Bad Boy’ Cook of Ajax and Barrie’s ‘Marvellous’ Mark Smither Saturday night.

Photo Pickering Casino Resort

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