The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ottawa is still a couple of years from opening its doors. But on Monday, the casino operator announced that it has signed a local hockey player to an endorsement deal.
Ottawa Senators defencemen Jakob Chychrun is the newest community ambassador for the Hard Rock International venue, where construction started in June. The casino, which will include 1,500 slot machines, 40 table games, a theatre and an a 150-room hotel, is slated to open in spring 2025.
Six years ago, the Ottawa Lottery and Gaming Corp. selected the Florida-based company to be its casino partner in the nation’s capital.
Canada’s most populous province has online Ontario betting sites as well as physical casinos.
More On Hard Rock Project
The Hard Rock casino will replace the Rideau Carleton Casino, which will remain in operation in the Ontario city until the new venue opens.
In a statement, Chychrun said he was excited to partner with a global brand like Hard Rock.
"It's a real privilege to join the Hard Rock International team of star athlete partnerships," he said.
As an ambassador, Chychrun will help Hard Rock promote local causes, including support for mental health initiatives. He also will attend special VIP events, such as dinners and golf outings.
His first duties came Saturday, when he attended a VIP event and helped present $10,000 (Canadian dollars) to the Alzheimer's Society.
Hockey betting in Ontario is a huge gambling attraction so it’s a natural fit for a casino brand to want an NHL player attached to its operation in a promotional role.
"The mutual work we are planning to undertake towards raising awareness of mental health initiatives is in perfect alignment with Hard Rock's All is One and Love All-Serve All philosophies," Rideau General Manager Helen MacMillan said.
About Senators D Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun was born in Boca Raton, Fla., about 30 miles north of Hard Rock’s Hollywood headquarters. Chychrun’s father, Jeff Chychrun, also played in the NHL and was born in LaSalle, Quebec, near Montreal.
The younger Chychrun, 25, began his NHL career with Arizona in 2016 and spent six-plus seasons there. In March, the Coyotes traded him to Ottawa for a first-round draft pick and two second-round picks. The blueliner has scored 60 goals and tallied 170 assists in 373 career games.
The Senators have odds between +4000 and +7000 at various Ontario sports betting apps to win the Stanley Cup in the 2023-24 season.
Chychrun has two years left on his six-year contract.
Ontario Considering Athlete Ban In iGaming Ads
Hard Rock’s ambassador deal with Chychrun comes as regulators in Ontario are considering a ban on athletes and other high-profile individuals for iGaming promotions.
The proposed rule before the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario would ban either active or retired athletes in promotional materials. It also would bar operators from using any celebrity, entertainer or influencer who is “reasonably expected to appeal to minors.”
The AGCO oversees online casino Ontario operators as well as sports betting.
If approved, the rule would not keep Chychrun from working with Hard Rock. But it would keep three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner Connor McDavid and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky from appearing in ads for BetMGM.