NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: A Friday night Gwen Stefani concert kicked off grand opening weekend at Great Canadian Resort Toronto, which includes a new 5,000-capacity venue. (Jeremy Chan)

Husband-Wife Duo Performed Separately

Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto’s grand opening weekend kicked off with separate, back-to-back, sold-out concerts at the new 5,000-capacity Theatre by husband-and-wife duo Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani — although the pair was not in town for each other’s shows due to prior commitments.

Both teased about their role in the big launch, which saw Stefani playing Friday, May 3, and Shelton the following night.

“Don’t you think it’s curious, that of all the people in the world, including Blake Shelton, they picked Gwen Stefani to open the casino?” Stefani said on stage. She was reportedly on her way to Las Vegas’ Lovers & Friends festival — which was cancelled at the last minute due to high winds — when Shelton arrived in Toronto for his Saturday show.

“I know that Gwen Stefani played here last night; I know that that was yesterday, but let’s just say that Gwen Stefani opened for me for this weekend,” Shelton joked from the stage. “For purposes of when we talk about this later in life, and we’re like, ‘Oh, we were there that weekend when Gwen opened for Blake, that was cool.’”

Prior to Stefani’s show, there was a late-afternoon ceremony in the lobby of the 328,000-square-foot casino complex, which began with the Wushu Project’s dragon and lion dance, symbolizing good luck and blessings, attended by some 200 invited guests that included Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ontario Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, Duncan Hannay, CEO, Ontario Lottery and Gaming and Matthew Anfinson, CEO of Great Canadian Entertainment. Members of the public could also stop behind the cordoned area and enjoy the hoopla, which included speeches, a video showing the build, a charitable donation ($50,000 to The Haven on the Queensway for those in need) and lots of lots of confetti.

Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto — located in the northwest area of the Great Toronto Area known as Etobicoke, about 18 miles from the city center — is now the country’s largest casino resort.

BETTING CONFETTI: Enjoying opening night festivities are Ontario Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy; Matthew Anfinson, CEO, Great Canadian Entertainment; Ontario Premier Doug Ford; Duncan Hannay, CEO, OLG; Cheryl Hickey, Emcee. (George Pimentel)

“We are immensely proud of this property, as it has been five years in the making and a $1 billion investment to bring it to life,” Anfinson said from the stage, set up just outside the Theatre entrance. “And now with the unveiling of our new 5,000-person Theatre, with incredible shows by superstar performers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, we are not just filling a void in Toronto’s entertainment scene; we are creating a dynamic hub for live performances that will resonate far beyond our borders.

“Coupled with our brand-new 400-room hotel, casino, dining venues and special events, we are providing elevated hospitality options and solidifying Toronto’s position as a top-tier destination for tourism and entertainment, and there is still more to come.”

Shelton, during his concert, also remarked about the complex, saying, “Look at this place! Not too bad, I love it! It has a hotel, a casino, a racetrack….”

Woodbine Racetrack is a separate business, across the street, opened in 1956 and owned by Woodbine Entertainment Group. Casino Woodbine opened in 1999. Construction began by Great Canadian Entertainment to not only expand the renamed casino but add a 400-room hotel and retail shops.

“Congratulations to Great Canadian Casino Resort on your grand opening,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “This venue is contributing CAD$500 million ($364 million) in economic impact for Ontario, creating good jobs and with a world-class entertainment experience for customers for years to come.”

As per its Community Benefits Agreement with the city of Toronto, Great Canadian Entertainment contributed CAD$5 million ($3.64 million) toward the construction of a new local childcare center and committed to local and social hiring.

Founded in 1982, Great Canadian Entertainment is Canada’s leading gaming and hospitality company, comprising 25 gaming, entertainment, and hospitality properties located in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.