Great Canadian Entertainment Sells Vancouver Island Casino to Tribe

Great Canadian Entertainment has agreed to sell Casino Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to a tribe making its entry into the Canadian gaming industry.

Great Canadian Entertainment Casino Nanaimo
Great Canadian Entertainment has agreed to sell Casino Nanaimo to the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The casino will be the tribe’s inauguration into gambling. (Image: Nanaimo News Now)

Great Canadian Entertainment is selling the Nanaimo casino in British Columbia to Petroglyph Development Group Ltd., the economic arm fully owned by the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed and remain subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

We are very pleased to have executed this agreement. As the operator of Casino Nanaimo since its inception in 1986, we believe that under Petroglyph’s steady management, this transaction will provide Casino Nanaimo, its guests, and team members with an exciting new chapter,” said Matt Anfinson, Great Canadian Entertainment chief executive officer. “We look forward to the closing and then working with the Petroglyph team during the transition period to ensure an outstanding outcome for all parties.”

Casino Nanaimo is a small casino with about 400 slot machines, six live dealer table games, and a poker room. The gaming floor additionally has 10 electronic table games. The facility is accompanied by an onsite restaurant and bar called The Well Public House.

Tribe Enters Gaming Market

The Snuneymuxw First Nation is betting on Casino Nanaimo to help spark its economic arm. The tribe currently relies on several businesses to fund its sovereign nation.

The tribe’s economic interests include a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Nanaimo, which is beside Casino Nanaimo. The tribe controls Duke Point Transload, a sea container shipping service, a retail cannabis dispensary, and a gas station and convenience store.

The Snuneymuxw Nation also owns Petroglyph Forestry, which manages and harvests nearly 2,200 acres, and operates Newcastle Island, a sacred village popular with wellness seekers, campers, and boaters.

The casino will further diversify the tribe’s economic interests.

We celebrate our partnership with Great Canadian and our entry into B.C.’s casino industry,” said Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse. “We are committed to bringing Snuneymuxw’s local expertise to an established tradition of outstanding guest service and meaningful community contributions.”

Great Canadian Entertainment has agreed to manage Casino Nanaimo for up to two years after the acquisition closes to educate the tribe on how to run a casino enterprise. Though details weren’t provided, the tribe will presumably provide Great Canadian Entertainment with a cut of the casino’s revenue during that time in an arrangement that mimics how casino operators lease properties in the US from real estate investment trusts.

“This collaboration promises to bring significant benefits and substantial economic growth to our Nation and the local community,” Wyse added.

Apollo Takeover

Since US-based private equity behemoth Apollo Global Management acquired Great Canadian Entertainment in September 2021 for C$2.5 billion (US$1.8 billion), the company has focused on streamlining its business operations and selling off lower-performing assets.

Apollo tapped gaming industry veteran Anthony “Tony” Rodio as CEO following its takeover. Rodio is one of the most respected executives in the gaming industry having previously run Eldorado Resorts amid its acquisition of Caesars Entertainment. Anfinson succeeded Rodio in November 2022.

Following the divestiture of Casino Nanaimo, Great Canadian’s casino portfolio will consist of 24 properties with about 18K slot machines and 600 table games. Its largest casino is Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto with 4,800 slots and e-tables, 175 live dealer tables, and a 400-room hotel.

Great Canadian’s casino brands include Great Canadian, Casino, Elements, and Shorelines.

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