Ontario casinos to remain closed for the foreseeable future

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Ontario casinos to remain closed for the foreseeable future

Gateway’s Ontario casinos are yet to set reopening dates amid the coronavirus pandemic, instead saying Casino Rama and Gateway Casinos will remain closed as it evaluates how to operate under the current capacity restrictions.

Yogonet reports that stage three of Ontario’s reopening restrictions, effective as of Friday, includes casinos.

“At the moment, I can confirm with you we will not be reopening Casino Rama in Orillia or Gateway Casino Innisfil today,” director of communications and public affairs for Gateway Casinos Robert Mitchell said.

“At the present time, all Gateway casinos remain closed in Ontario as we evaluate how we can operate under the current capacity restrictions. Right now, we have no set timeline for reopening any Gateway locations.”

Gateway has been looking at what would be needed to maintain social distancing and a safe environment within a casino setting, as well as the impact on revenues.

“We have developed extensive health and safety plans for each site, which includes two-metre physical distancing, rigorous cleaning and sanitation measures and the mandatory use of masks or face coverings for all individuals entering our gaming sites,” Mr Mitchell said.

However, he pointed out, “any plans for reopening must be independently reviewed by a health and safety subject matter expert and submitted to the regulator,” the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).”

The ongoing closure means a fiscal loss to host municipalities, such as Innisfil.

In a normal year, the town receives approximately 5 million Canadian dollars from the OLG as its share of revenues generated by the casino tables and slots.

So far this year, Innisfil has received just under 1 million Canadian dollars in the first quarter, with no further funding forthcoming until the casino can open its doors.

Casinos in the UK will reopen in August

UK casinos have finally been cleared to reopen after their lengthy closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calvin Ayre reported in July that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out the latest phase of the government’s economic restart program, which will finally allow UK casinos to reopen to the public on August 1.

The casinos were ordered to close in March, as the country struggled to get its COVID-19 infection rate under control.

Betting shops were allowed to reopen last month but casinos were left behind, despite the operators deploying the necessary health and safety precautions and furious lobbying by the Betting and Gaming Control, on behalf of the estimated 12,000 English casino staff furloughed since March.

On Friday, the BGC hailed the UK government’s announcement while demanding that regional authorities in Scotland and Wales “end the uncertainty” for the 2,000 casino staff in those regions, who still don’t know when they might go back to work.

The UK government’s announcement may have come too late for 1,642 staff at venues operating by Genting UK, which said Thursday that it would be trimming its payrolls due to the “temporary closure of business and reduced trading and changes to operating model.”

The company said “a significant number of those at risk of redundancy will remain on furlough” for the time being and the company promised to do what it could to “bring those individual back in to the business at a later stage.”

Genting added that it had been leaning heavily on the government’s job retention scheme but “when it became clear to us that a significant number of roles could likely not be retained, it was only right to begin the redundancy consultation process.”

It’s unclear what impact the government’s recent announcement might have on Genting’s staff cull.

Genting warned last month that its casinos in Bristol, Torquay and Margate would likely not be reopening when the government finally sounded the all-clear.

Paul Wilcock, who heads up the Malaysian conglomerate’s UK division, said the company was looking at “some very difficult options to ensure survival.”

Genting UK, followed up that notice by calling time on poker operations at its UK properties, which will bring an end to the long-running Genting Poker Series.

The company had only recently rebranded the series to reflect its new GentingBet identity.

Genting’s Singapore unit announced this week it could lay off as many as 2,000 staff at its Resorts World Sentosa integrated resort, which was shut down in April due to COVID-19 and only recently received permission to reopen on a limited basis.

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