Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited

Exciting gaming experiences and entertainment in British Columbia and Alberta
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
Forrest Lancaster

Since 1991, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited has been providing thrills to patrons in Western Canada. Led by Tony Santo, president and CEO of Gateway, the business operates 18 exciting venues between British Columbia and Alberta. Gateway’s casinos, resorts, conference centers and gaming and dining locations each offer unique experiences with something for everyone.

Santo joined the operation in 2013, stepping immediately into his current position. With more than 30 years of experience in the gaming industry in both the U.S. and Canada, he strives to establish Gateway as Canada’s premier entertainment and gaming company.

The growing brand employs more than 3,800 people and has locations in Edmonton, Alberta, Langley, Burnaby, Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, New Westminster, Mission, Squamish, Courtenay, Campbell River, Victoria, Abbotsford and Surrey, British Columbia. Total assets include 200 tables, more than 6,100 slot machines, 36 restaurants and 1,000 hotel rooms.

The Gateway experience

“Our casinos strive to bring together the best in gaming, entertainment and dining to ensure a memorable experience for all our guests,” says Santo. “We strive to not only bring the highest quality entertainment to our guests, but also to provide well-paying jobs while generating important revenue for governments and communities. With over 20 successful years of Canadian gaming experience, we are excited to build on our past toward a bigger, bolder future.”

Gateway Casinos operate on a core tenet of providing guests with memorable experiences while serving communities. A visit to any of the group’s 18 entertainment venues includes live entertainment, both high-end and family-friendly dining and all the excitement of gaming from slots to table games. Unseen by visitors is a unique impact on surrounding communities. The company strives to create stable, long-term jobs for locals and each location further impacts local economies by increasing private and tax revenues.

The group also makes significant community contributions through its Gateway Gives program. In 2014, Gateway and its properties donated over $500,000 in monetary, in-kind support and countless hours of volunteer time from Gateway employees. In the Kamloops region alone, where the business has had significant recent growth and community impact, Gateway Gives supports the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation, the Brain Injury Association, the YMCA, Thompson Rivers University and the Kamloops Food Bank.

Sustained growth

The most recent development for Gateway Casinos is a rebranding in the Kamloops, British Columbia market with the recently relocated Cascades Casino, Kamloops. “This casino has three restaurants, live music, table games and slots and is an entertainment destination.” The casino is open to guests ages 19 and up, while the rest of the venue is open to all demographics.

The casino comes complete with a new fine-dining restaurant concept, Atlas Steak + Fish, which will be a one-of-a-kind new offering. Additional dining options are the Buffet and MATCH Eatery & Public House. The venue is bringing 200 new jobs to the area, resulting in millions of dollars in local revenue and payroll.

Santo adds that there will be a shuttle to help people get around locally. The area is fairly spread out, so implementing easily accessed transportation infrastructure is critical for the venue’s success as a destination. The location has also recently added a complimentary valet service.

On Dec. 23, 2015, Gateway announced the acquisition of Playtime Gaming, adding six new properties to the company’s assets. This addition marks a new phase in the group’s growth and development plan, bringing new markets into the Gateway portfolio, including the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The company also has two major developments in the works for 2016.

Experienced Leadership

Santo has been a major proponent for the company’s long-term development goals. He brings more than 30 years of experience in the gaming industry to the table and has led expansion efforts for casinos and venues throughout the U.S. and Canada over the course of his career.

According to an executive profile provided by his marketing team, Santo began his gaming career in 1981 at the Las Vegas Hilton in finance. Throughout the years, he held management positions at various gaming properties, including president of Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas, Las Vegas Hilton, Reno Hilton Casino (now the Grand Sierra Resort) and Flamingo Reno.

Santo was also senior vice president for Caesars Entertainment. In this position, he oversaw the operations of 13 properties and led revenue maximization and cost savings efforts. Santo was instrumental in the successful merger and integration of Caesars Entertainment and Harrah’s Entertainment in 2005 and led the transformation of Casino Windsor to Caesars Windsor in 2006.

Santo’s industry experience and involvement extends beyond business ventures. He previously served on the boards of the Culinary Training Academy of Las Vegas, UNLV Harrah Hotel College Alumni Association, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. He has been honored with knighthood by Opportunity Village of Las Vegas and was the recipient of the 1998 Hotelier of the Year by the Nevada Hotel Motel Association. He joined the Gateway Casinos team in 2013.

His experience informs day-to-day operations and drives the organization’s ever-expanding growth goals. Working alongside a strong executive team, Santo embodies Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited’s enduring dedication to customers, community and good business.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Creative Transportation Solutions