Officials with the Century Downs Racetrack and Casino have opened the first phase of operations as the casino opened to the general public on Wednesday morning.

A group of approximately 200 people waited outside the 16,000 square foot casino, located east of CrossIron Mills at the intersection of Dwight McLellan Trail and CrossIron Drive, to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the building's interior.

In Alberta, gaming is a $1.5 billion industry and a portion of gambling revenue benefits the community.

"We can never forget that this is funds that build things like playgrounds for kids in schools, this is things that build hospitals, help builds roads,” said Bill Robinson, president & CEO Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission during the casino’s opening. “These programs are really the cornerstone, quite frankly, to some of our charities and certainly most of our communities right across the province."  

While the casino is open for business, officials with Century Downs Racetrack and Casino consider Monday’s festivities a soft opening as excitement continues to build for the return of horse racing to the Calgary area.

On April 25, the Century Downs racetrack will host a day of harness racing to begin its 2015 season. In 2016, thoroughbred racing is scheduled to arrive at the track.

Century Downs management are considering plans to construct an adjoining hotel on the north side of the casino.

With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming