What you need to know about reopened Ontario casinos

After six months, many of the province's casinos are reopening with new protocols

With COVID-19 cases rising in the province, it might seem bad luck to reopen casinos. But if you’re willing to gamble your money (and your health) during a pandemic, many Ontario casinos are on track to open today (September 28), with some strict limitations.

The Great Canadian Gaming Corp. has officially reopened 11 properties in Ontario, including Casino Woodbine and Casino Ajax in the GTA. All have been closed since March 16 because of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 protocols include: 50 patrons inside casino at a time; screening at entrance; mandatory mask-wearing; protective barriers between workers and gamers; hand sanitizers and wipes widely available, with enhanced disinfecting of high touch surfaces like ATMs, slot machine buttons, panels and chairs.

In addition, table games like poker and blackjack will not be operational. And no food or beverage will be served or will be allowed into the casino.

People are encouraged to go online to book two-hour sessions at each casino. Entrance lines will be physically distanced. Those who have made reservations will have 15 minutes until after their session has begun to enter; after that, stand-by players will be allowed in.

The largest casinos in Ontario, including Niagara Falls’ Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara, Orillia’s Casino Rama and Caesars Windsor in Windsor, remain closed.

With the cap on 50 patrons per casino, there’s no way these places, which have a capacity of thousands, could be profitable.

“Once open, gaming revenues in each jurisdiction will be significantly reduced due to operating restrictions,” said Rod Baker, the chief executive officer of Great Canadian Gaming, in a press release on September 4.

“The reductions will be especially significant for our Ontario properties where, due to the 50-guest maximum restriction, we expect no material financial benefit to the Company from our 11 Ontario locations.”


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