The pandemic changed how all businesses operate. Restaurants and bars had to shut down, including hotels and casinos. The pandemic has wreaked havoc in global economies, but land-based casinos are now slowly opening up to the public gain.
If you are from Canada, you may have observed a few casinos offering their services again. Let us take a look at how they are working through this situation.
Canadian casinos started shutting down in April of 2020. Operators had no option as the pandemic continued to spread. In this regard, online casinos started to thrive.
Not a lot of countries had the same policies about work during the pandemic. Almost everywhere, governments had to declare a form of lockdown. This included Canadian land-based casinos—they had to send their employees home.
The New Normal
Recently, land-based casinos started opening again but with strict guidelines and protocols.
Here are some examples:
- Temperature checks
- Use of hand sanitizer
- Face masks
- Use of disinfectants and wet wipes with alcohol
Casinos across the country are opening up. However, the land-based casinos do not look like what they used to be. If you go to a land-based casino in Canada now, you will observe that many table games are still closed. As the cure for the virus remains elusive, most of the games that are open are machine games like slot machines. Despite this, there are fewer slot machines to choose from.
Also, there are many reminders scattered across the floor on how to keep everyone safe. You will see these reminders on floors, walls, elevators, and before you step on the escalator.
Restaurants Still Closed
As a precaution against contracting the disease, restaurants are still closed. A lot of amenities are also not offered. Casinos have opened the gaming areas, but you cannot expect to get valet service.
Live shows, buffets and spas are not open yet. Bars and spas are also not catering to the public as of yet. Due to this, the casinos have a skeletal employee framework as they operate.
The New Sanitation Standard
You will also notice that casinos are now applying cleaning principles and discipline that was once reserved for restrooms only. There is a consistent activity going on for spraying and cleaning stair rails, tables, and chairs. The goal of the operators is to ensure that everything inside those facilities is disinfected, thus reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus.
Despite opening to the public, the land-based casinos are not open for 24 hours. Most of them are closed in the mornings to clean up, and only open at night. There are also plastic barriers between gaming tables, slot machines, and even food counters. While some food joints are open, they are following a strict protocol to employ sanitation and safety.
The number of people is also controlled. People have to wait outside for their turn. No one knows how many patrons are allowed for each casino, but they have to wait outside until it is their turn to get inside and play.
The Casinos That Are Reopening
The first province that allowed the re-opening of casinos was Alberta. When the casinos re-opened here, wearing of masks was not required but highly encouraged.
The casinos in the province also did not put in place many restrictions. For one, the only requirement was to maintain a two-meter distance between people.
Now, casinos are allowed to open in all Atlantic provinces. The only exceptions are Newfoundland and Labrador. These provinces have banned casinos for a long time. Although casinos can now open, there are still many in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that are yet to re-open.
On the other hand, Saskatchewan is also opening casinos, and many are permitted to open in parts of Ontario. In the next few weeks, we can also expect casinos to open in Manitoba, Quebec, and British Columbia.
Health authorities in British Columbia have a plan for the casino industry, and this plan will materialize as part of the fourth phase of reinvigorating the economy. Along with opening the casinos, the government is also planning to open professional sports, concerts, and international tourism.
The problem is that to make phase 4 happen, the government requires that there is a vaccine to treat the virus.
Many casino operators are lobbying the provincial governments to open the casinos despite the absence of a vaccine. What they are proposing is that they are allowed to open, but with strict health and safety guidelines for all.
The State Casino Industry
When the pandemic broke out, there were 114 land-based casinos operating in Canada. All of these were affected and closed when the government issued a mandate to shut down. The Canadian Gaming Association said that the casino industry supports 182,000 jobs. The revenue of the industry is $14.6 billion annually.
Even if the casinos are allowed to open, the lingering question is how many gamblers are willing to take the risk of exposure without a vaccine?
There are gamblers who make gambling part of their vacation. Some would even visit six casino sites in one day. The same people, however, said that they are not willing to risk it. Some said that they have come to terms of not seeing the casino for a long time.
Some players openly said that they would not play even if the casinos re-open. They would rather play Canadian free slots online. They are worried about the disease, the crowds, and the re-circulated air. They do not want to touch the surfaces of anything inside the casino for fear of getting the virus.
Some retirees also said that they would not even risk seeing their grandchildren. They also thought that it would not be fun, considering that the virus is just around waiting for its next host.
The Safety Measures
For casinos that have not re-opened yet, they are seriously contemplating how to facilitate sanitation and how to disinfect their facilities if they re-open. Some are planning to have specific groups of people wiping surfaces every two hours. They are currently preparing a log for each machine. They will use this log to monitor if a machine has been disinfected or not.
As part of the safety measure, elevators will also be capped to a maximum of four people. The buttons will be sanitized at least once an hour.
- Casinos also have a maximum number of guests. Others say that the maximum they could accommodate is 250 guests only. The guests also have to book their visits online. The casinos will now operate RSVP—you cannot go there without reservation.
- Masks will also be mandatory. People who visit the casinos must wear a mask, or entry will not be allowed. Casino visitors are also expected to sanitize their hands before they leave the tables. They have to do this as they sit to play, and as they leave.
- The players will also receive a pen—a stylus type that they must use to touch the buttons. This should prevent them from touching the buttons on the machines.
- For the slot machines, the casino operators will separate them and ensure that there is a safe distance between the machines. The slot machines will only get activated once attendance has been called. The machines will also get disinfected before they are turned on for a player and will be turned off once the player is done.
- Casino patrons must not expect valet service. Also, no one will take the coat of the patrons. Even the urinals will be closed to promote physical distancing.
Some casinos plan to open the table games. Part of the plan is to modify the tables. Only the dealers will handle chips. Players will not be allowed to touch their cards. Casinos will not offer games like poker or any game that requires players to touch their cards.
In table games, players are separated by plastics. These plastics will serve as barriers to prevent the virus from spreading. These plastic barriers will also get disinfected on a regular basis.
The first table games will be opened in Quebec. Many casinos will limit table game participation to only three players at a time.
Many casinos are now allowed to open as part of the 3rd phase of reviving the economy. In Ontario, much of the business there will open soon, along with casinos and resorts. The exception is that the Golden Horseshoe will not open yet.
All establishments that will open while there is no vaccine cannot operate table games, at least for Ontario. The casinos also cannot operate buffet tables. They must require their patrons to wear masks, and they have to submit a documented plan on how to keep their patrons safe.
In Ontario, casinos are limited to only 50 people at a time. This is still being contested, as 50 people playing is not enough to sustain the business. There are still talks ongoing between government regulatory boards and casinos as to how many people must be allowed to ply. The number 50 is just a starter, but this will be increased in time.