Gateway Casinos Wades Back Into The Gambling Waters in Canada
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Gateway Casinos Wades Back Into The Gambling Waters in Canada

Gateway Casinos Wades Back Into The Gambling Waters in Canada

After months of being shuttered thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gateway Casinos has opened up some locations in Ontario under the province’s Stage 3 guidelines. The locations were opened in October last year.

On October 8, locations in Woodstock, Clinton, and Hanover were reopened, while all the other Gateway locations – except for Casino Rama Resort – were reopened two days later. In total, Gateway reopened11 casinos. These are playtime Hanover, Gateway Casinos Woodstock, Gateway Casinos Clinton, and Cascades Casino Chatham. The others are 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.

Reopening plan

Gateway Casinos said all their locations will stick to the government-mandated maximum of 50 guests, and will only include slot machines, while table games will not be operational and non-gaming amenities will be very limited.

Punters will have to reserve their place online before they can visit Gateway’s properties, with the locations only open to invited My Club Rewards members. Invited members will be notified by email with details on how to make reservations, Gateway announced in a statement.

“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,” said Tony Santo, Gateway Casinos CEO.

On the COVID-19 restrictions, Santo said the new system they were implementing 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.” 

In September, Gateway Casinos received a $200 million loan from the federal government as it prepared for the reopening of some of its locations. The company’s casinos have been shut since March as part of government efforts to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Much needed lifeline

Paul Burns, the chief executive of the Canadian Gaming Association, described the loan as a much-needed lifeline.

“It has been a very difficult time. These businesses have been closed for seven months and this will help make them economically viable. It has been tough on every company. The commitment is real and significant and they want to make sure they get it right. They (Gateway) have been making plans to reopen with mitigation measures related to health and safety,” Burns said.

In March, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation or OLGC ordered that all casinos be shut down in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The closure of the casinos followed a massive surge in the virus. 

Some casinos in the province began reopening in June.

In September, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation announced that it had reopened 11 of its properties, including Casino Woodbine in Toronto and Casino Ajax. As with Gateway Casinos, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation said only 50 people would be allowed on its properties.

In July, Toronto announced that it was moving to Stage 3 of its COVID-19 response. Under this stage, businesses and services such as playgrounds, additional recreational programs, indoor restaurant dining, gyms and sports facilities with certain restrictions in place.

Under the Stage 3 order and regulation made under the Province’s Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, nearly all businesses and public spaces were permitted to gradually reopen, with workplace safety and public health measures in place.

A press release said Ontario’s reopening was “based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing."

At least 260,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded since the outbreak began.

In the U.S. casinos began reopening as early as May, after they too had been forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Island Resort and Casino in Harris, Michigan began a phased reopening in May after it had been closed for more than six weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. Its proprietors said they had installed plexiglass ahead of the reopening and that the location would be continuously sanitised. 

The closure of casinos in the U.S. had pushed many gamblers to online casinos.


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