Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gaming centre more about downtown than Jets: Ashton

  • Print

PLANS to open a gaming centre in Cityplace have more to do with a long-standing agreement on downtown development than with supporting an NHL hockey team, a senior minister says.

Steve Ashton, the minister responsible for Manitoba Lotteries, said the 5,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open this spring, is merely the execution of a deal put in place before the MTS Centre opened in 2004.

"We had an initial gaming agreement (with True North Sports & Entertainment). We've had 50 (video lottery terminals) in place since Day 1, which provided a source of revenue on an annual basis to maintain our business plan. Now (the MTS Centre) is one of the most successful arenas in North America," he said.

The 15,003-seat facility opened in 2004 with a price tag of $133.5 million. Nearly three-quarters of the price tag, $93 million, came from the private sector. The remaining $40.5 million was shared by three levels of government.

The gaming centre, currently under construction on the second floor of Cityplace, will be owned by True North, owners of the Winnipeg Jets, and operated by Manitoba Lotteries.

It is scheduled to include 140 slot machines, two poker tables and four blackjack tables. Once it opens, the 50 VLTs currently in operation at the Tavern United pub and restaurant, which is adjacent to the MTS Centre, will be removed.

Ashton said Premier Greg Selinger was part of the May 31, 2011, announcement that the NHL was returning to Winnipeg. That day would never have arrived, however, if the groundwork hadn't been done on the MTS Centre, he said.

"We recognized right from Day 1, get the arena, then you could see about getting the Jets back," he said.

"But even without the Jets, (the MTS Centre) has been a huge asset for downtown. With the Jets, it's that much more of an asset."

What has become one of the busiest entertainment venues in North America has helped transform downtown Winnipeg, Ashton said.

"People are coming downtown at night in unprecedented numbers. There are huge spinoffs to the businesses in the area," he said.

"We're committed to the MTS Centre. Are the Jets an important part of that? Absolutely. But there are numerous other activities there. They just had We Day there a short time ago."

Ashton said the premier made it clear when it was announced the NHL was returning that more machines would be needed to support the MTS Centre.

With a "very modest" financial commitment, Ashton said the province has been able to facilitate the construction of a top-tier sports and entertainment facility, which set the stage for the return of the NHL seven years later.

"It's a symbol of the good things that are happening. A lot of the corporate support that's there in bringing the Jets back is there because the province is growing and the economy is doing well," he said.

Because of its size and the fact there are "a couple dozen" restaurants, bars and lounges in the vicinity of the MTS Centre have gaming, Ashton doesn't believe the gaming centre will change the face of downtown.

"This will be on a slightly larger scale and it will be dedicated to the bottom line of the MTS Centre and having the Jets back in Winnipeg," he said.

The province has no plans for any gaming initiatives to support the new home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Investors Group Field, he said.


WHEN is a gaming centre not a casino? When it's a fraction of the size of Club Regent of McPhillips Station.

To put things in perspective, the new gaming centre being built in cityplace will encompass 5,000 square feet but pale in comparison to McPhillips Station (174,000 square feet) and Club Regent (182,000 square feet).

According to Manitoba Lotteries, the two casinos generated $236.4 million in 2011-12, an increase of 7.1 million or 3.1 per cent from the previous year.

default video player to use on WFP

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 24, 2013 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006

View More Gallery Photos

Ads by Google