THUNDER BAY – As the OLG and Ontario move to Stage 3 of opening, casinos are starting to re-open. However, in Thunder Bay, it may be sometime before the Gateway Casino opens for business.
Rob Mitchell, the Director for Communications and Public Affairs at Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited tells NetNewsLedger, “Right now, we have no set timeline for re-opening any Gateway locations. We are currently evaluating the recent Stage 3 announcement and how the capacity restrictions will impact potential re-openings and our ability to bring our people back to work.”
“At Gateway, we have developed extensive health and safety plans for each of our sites, which also includes two metres physical distancing, rigorous cleaning and sanitation measures and the mandatory use of masks for all individuals entering our gaming sites. All our plans have been independently reviewed by a health and safety subject matter expert and have been submitted to the regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).”
When the Government of Ontario announced as part of its Stage 3 re-opening plan, it was permitting certain businesses to re-open in certain regions, that included casinos and Charitable Gaming centres, which have been closed since March 16-17, 2020.
The re-opening of these facilities is subject to the following restrictions:
- A maximum of 50 customers in the gaming establishment at any given time;
- A requirement that all persons on-site adhere to two-metre physical distancing; and,
- For eligible casinos, no table games at this time.
In a statement to media, the OLG says, “This Stage 3 re-opening is consistent with the province’s regional approach it took during Stage 2. Eligible casinos and Charitable Gaming centres have been selected on the basis of location and risk, subject to the advice of public health officials.”
On July 31, 2020 the OLG states, “All casinos are eligible to reopen except for Caesars Windsor, which is in the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region, which remains in Stage 2”.
As Stage 3 was near, the OLG provided a list of eligible casinos to open.
Eligible casinos include:
- All casinos in the East Bundle (Kawartha, Belleville, Peterborough and Thousand Islands) and some in the West GTA Bundle (Brantford and Grand River) The service provider for these gaming bundles is Great Canadian Gaming Corporation
- Most casinos in the Southwest Bundle (Clinton, Hanover, Woodstock, Chatham, London), and all casinos in the North Bundle (Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay) and Central Bundle (Rama and Innisfil). The service provider for these gaming bundles is Gateway Casinos and Entertainment.
- Rideau Carleton Casino in Ottawa. The service provider for this gaming bundle is HR Ottawa.
The Casino in Thunder Bay, however, remains closed for now.
For casinos and Charitable Gaming centres, re-opening is contingent on having a safety plan for the site (which must include mandatory use of masks or face-coverings for customers), reviewed by an appropriate expert and submitted to the regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Re-opening dates for eligible casino and Charitable Gaming centres will be set by the service providers and communicated by them. The specific reopening date for each gaming site will vary depending on a site’s readiness and commercial viability to operate under the mandatory restrictions.