Industry Reports

Ontario MPPs Hear Casinos Concerns about the Future

Ontario casino venues and bingo halls are planning their reopening phase but first, they will have to receive approval from the provincial government. Casino locations and gambling halls across the province want to see the support of legislators when it comes to their official relaunch. The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs saw representatives of the provincial casino field on Friday.

The preparation for the official relaunch of in-person gaming in Ontario has commenced, but provincial officials have to give a green light to the business reopening phase including casino gaming and gambling halls. Gaming field representatives had the chance to share insights and the actual impact the lockdown has had on the local casino field recently.

Reopening Expected

The Committee dedicated June 19 to a full day of conversation with the people most affected by the province-wide lockdown. This included representatives of leading casino locations, bingo halls, hotels, as well as various local restaurants and touristic hotspots. They had the chance to share their thoughts and put things into perspective. The past three months have taken their toll on them.

No revenue flow has impacted the companies working in the tourism and hospitality industry of Ontario, as they depend on the people making their way there. Hotel operators in Niagara Falls, Ontario were among the representatives making their way in front of the committee, as they sought the support of MPPs. The premium hotels located there had to close for business mid-March and ever since then they have remained closed.

Paul Burns, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Gaming Association, was also among the individuals participating in the conversation on Friday. Mr. Burns made it clear that North America’s casino industry is slowly waking up following the lockdown and something has got to change in Canada as well.

Conversation with the Committee

He pointed out that New York State is still preparing for the official reopening of its commercial casino locations, but tribal venues on Niagara Falls, New York already launched operation, as they work with their own compacts with the state government. In this sense, Ontario residents are more likely to cross the border and make their way in a US casino location than they are to wait for the official reopening of Ontario’s venues.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Windsor should be the first casino hotpots to relaunch in-person gaming, as Mr. Burns puts it. This would guarantee that the province remains as competitive as possible down the road. At this point, the hospitality and gaming industry has worked on its reopening plan, including special measures protecting both patrons and casino staff members. It would bring a 50-percent occupancy at all times, promoting physical distancing.

Moreover, cleaning and disinfecting would also take place frequently. Some of the slot machines would also be turned off, to create space between the working ones among them. Table games will also work with a reduced number of seats. Cam Johnstone, Chief Executive Officer of Delta Bingo, also noted that local charitable organizations struggle without financial support.