Canada has done a good job at keeping COVID-19 at arm’s length, for the most part, but a surge seen over the last month is making some people nervous. Still, the country is counting on its citizens to be responsible in helping to control a further spread of the virus and has, like everywhere else, been slowly reintroducing commercial activity emphasized by strict social health protocols. The country’s casino industry has only been able to take baby steps toward a complete revival, with some operators getting back to work at the end of last month. Gateway Casinos, with its large footprint, decided to wait a little longer, though, but is apparently ready to take the plunge. The company announced yesterday that it will open certain casinos in Ontario this week, with others to follow later.
11 Gateway casinos will open between tomorrow, October 8, and October 10. Playtime Hanover, Gateway Casinos Woodstock, Gateway Casinos Clinton and Cascades Casino Chatham will open tomorrow, while Starlight Point Edward, Gateway Casinos Sarnia, Gateway Casinos London, Gateway Casinos Sudbury, Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie, Gateway Casinos Thunder Bay and Gateway Casinos Innisfil will welcome gamblers back starting Saturday. Casino Rama Resort, however, is still going to remain closed for now.
Gateway CEO Tony Santo says of the relaunch, “We are excited to be able to re-open our Ontario properties and welcome back some of our team members and customers. The health and well-being of our employees and guests is our top priority. We look forward to fully re-opening and welcoming more of our guests back in the future as capacities are increased and restrictions are lifted.”
Despite the announcement, gamblers in and around Ontario shouldn’t get too excited. According to Gateway, patrons are going to have to reserve their play time online in advance, and only My Club Rewards members will be able to make a reservation. Even then, the casino will have to first send an invitation to the member in order for him or her to be able to place the reservation – no invite, no reservation, no casino visit.
Those fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to head to a casino will deal with restrictions similar to those found elsewhere in the global casino industry. In accordance with government-mandated guidelines, only slot machines will be operational, and casinos can’t permit more than 50 people on the gaming floor at one time. There won’t be any table games offered, and the amount of non-gaming amenities provided will be kept to a minimum.
The temporary operating procedures, apart from those implemented by the government, are expected to help control COVID-19, while allowing Gateway to get back on its feet. Santo adds, “This system will allow our staff to properly prepare the gaming floor for our guests, and ensure there is no congestion at the entrance as they wait to enter. Things may look and feel a little different around the property, but we remain committed to making your visit enjoyable.”