Hard Rock breaks ground on Ottawa hotel and casino expansion, rebranding

After delays caused by the pandemic, the future Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ottawa is finally breaking ground today, Tuesday. The festivities begin at 2:20 p.m. when Hard Rock International executives will be joined by elected officials and business and community leaders to unveil new renderings and details of the upcoming entertainment destination in Canada’s capital.

Hard Rock’s future hotel and casino is coming to life after an agreement between the Florida-based giant and Rideau Carleton Raceway Casino, currently managed by Hard Rock and governed by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC). The groundbreaking ceremony will be held indoors, on the existing Rideau Carleton Casino property.

At the Rideau Carleton Casino’s live venue, The Joint, Hard Rock officials and community leaders will deliver remarks to commemorate the occasion. Speakers and attendees include the Mayor of Ottawa and City officials; Seminole Tribe representatives; Hard Rock International officials; and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation officials.

The groundbreaking will also feature guests holding Hard Rock’s signature guitar-handled shovels, according to a press release. One-on-one interviews will take place following the official event, and light refreshments will be served.

As part of its service agreement with the OLGC, Hard Rock took over the day-to-day operations of Rideau Carleton Casino in September 2017. The property is equipped with over 1,200 slot machines and electronic table games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. It also includes a high-limit gaming salon, food and beverage outlets, and seasonal live horse racing.

As it has done elsewhere, Hard Rock is seeking to rebrand the property. While that project was delayed amid the pandemic, the construction plans are now set to move forward, with the casino soon to see $350 million worth of new investments under the project, described as one of the largest private developments currently in Canada’s capital.

By revamping the property and adding the iconic Hard Rock brand to the mix, the Florida-based entertainment and hospitality giant aims to recapture spending from Ontario residents and tourists from elsewhere. 

The updated property is expected to generate over $206 million in tax revenue for the Province of Ontario, the Canadian Federal Government and the City of Ottawa once fully complete, according to earlier estimates.

Hard Rock’s plan for the venue includes a sizable expansion of the casino, and the addition of an eight-story hotel, a 1,600-seat theater and more than 4,000 square meters of new restaurants.