Windsor-Essex is the last region in Ontario which received a green light to enter Stage 3 of the business reopening plan on a provincial level. Casino venues and charitable gaming halls also have permission to launch operation when they are ready. Locals and casino operators have expressed their concerns regarding this phase.
Ever since March 16 this year, in-person gaming in casino venues and gaming halls has been put on pause, as those venues had to close indefinitely. Physical distancing was the mandatory practice for protecting individuals. Both casino patrons and staff members are exposed to the threats of this unprecedented situation so they had to be protected through the closure of the venues.
About four months after the temporary closure of the casino venues, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation made it clear that a casino reopening across the province will have to happen in a gradual manner. Every region of Ontario required an individual approach taking into account the current health situation among other factors. Windsor-Essex was among the last regions to wait for permission to enter Stage 3.
Following a thorough evaluation of the current situation, Ontario’s government recently made it clear that the region of Windsor-Essex could enter Stage 3 on August 12. The Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario were among the last regions to remain on Stage 2, anticipating a clear to enter the next phase of the business reopening plan issued by the government.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation made it clear that the casino reopening will come with some conditions and restrictions. All types of gaming hotspots will be allowed to welcome up to 50 individuals at a time, reducing significantly the number of people. Table gaming will not be available during the first phase of the casino reopening plan in Ontario. These conditions are what concern Gateway Casinos & Entertainment among other casino operators.
Casinos Still Closed
The casino leader in Ontario pointed out that for the time being, it will refrain from reopening its casino complexes, as the limited number of players allowed in at all times would not suffice to cover operation costs. The gaming revenue they generate has been estimated insufficient for the sustainable casino operation and a hypothetical reopening could end up doing more harm than good.
In the meantime, Windsor residents have already expressed their position regarding in-person casino gaming. Some of them won’t make their way into a casino venue for the time being, despite all safety measures and physical distancing taking place on its premises. Across Canada, some tribal and commercial casinos have relaunched operation with limited capacity and special protocols implemented for both players and workers protection.
Closed casinos equal lost gaming revenue allocations for the host community and the city coffers. Sault Ste. Marie is one of Ontario’s areas seeing casino closure for months. Projections are that the city will lose some CA$500,000 as a result of the closure of Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie. The gaming hotspot had to close on March 16 and it remains closed to this day.