How Covid-19 has Impacted Land-Based Casinos in Canada

Darko Ilievski by Darko Ilievski Published: April 25, 2021 Reading time: 5min
Land-Based Casinos in Canada an Covid

Discover how the pandemic has changed land-based casinos in Canada and what guidelines and protocols are in place for the reopening of gambling in the country going forward.

The pandemic has completely transformed how Canadian businesses operate. Bars and restaurants had to shut down along with land-based casinos and hotels. The COVID-19 virus wreaked havoc across the globe and the entertainment industry was hit the hardest since quarantine was implemented across the world.

Thankfully, there are a couple of Canadian land-based casinos that are slowly getting back on their feet but with the new guidelines and protocols that are demanded by the government, it remains a difficult road ahead for the gambling industry. With that in mind, let's take a look at when the shutdown occurred, the new normal that Canadian gamblers will face going forward, and the land-based casinos that are trying their best to re-open in a safe and secure environment amid the pandemic.

The Shutdown and the New Normal

Land-based casinos in Canada closed their doors in April 2020 and operators had no choice but to keep them closed for more than a year due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This witnessed an upsurge in online gambling where the best online casinos in Canada enjoyed more profits and a larger number of players than ever before.

When the pandemic swept across the country, there were a total of 114 land-based casinos that were operating in the Great White North. Each of these gambling establishments was affected by the pandemic and had to close their doors after the government demanded a shutdown of the entire entertainment industry. According to the Canadian Gaming Association, the casino industry is responsible for more than 182,000 jobs and brings in over $14.6 billion in revenue every year.

In recent months, land-based casinos in Canada started opening their doors to the public but had to adhere to strict guidelines and protocols at all times to provide a safe and secure environment for players. This includes temperature checks, face masks, use of hand sanitizer, and use of wet wipes and disinfectants. Even though there are a handful of land-based casinos that are open to the public, most of them won't provide the same experience that players are used to.

Most of the table games are still closed and there is only a limited selection of slot machines available to the public. There are also loads of reminders spread across the casino floor on how to stay safe and to sanitize regularly, including escalators, elevators, restrooms, entrances, and against the walls. As an additional precaution, restaurants, shops, and pubs are still closed to prevent contracting the virus while visiting a land-based casino.

Furthermore, you won't be able to enjoy valet services, buffets, spas, or live shows. It's also worth mentioning that most land-based casinos in Canada are operating with a skeleton staff and are not open 24 hours a day. Most gambling establishments are also limited by the number of players that can be on the casino floor at any given time and there are plastic barriers placed between food counters, slot machines, and gaming tables as an extra precaution.

Still No Reopening Date for Land-Based Casinos in Niagara Falls

April marked the one-year anniversary of when Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino in Ontario had to close their doors due to the COVID-19 virus. The land-based casinos in Niagara have remained closed for the past 12 months while other businesses have managed to reopen since the pandemic swept across the country.

Even though loads of preparations have gone into the two Niagara Falls gambling sites to operate safely during the pandemic, provincial guidelines are making it impossible to reopen the gambling establishments as only 50 people are allowed at any given time. Political officials and land-based operators have argued that it's not worth opening the two casinos for only 50 players at a time as the two sites can easily handle 11,000 customers on a regular basis.

The president of Niagara Casinos, Richard Taylor, recently stated that Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino Resort do not have a reopening date as of yet. They will continue to work with emergency services, the Niagara Region Public Health, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, the infectious disease prevention experts, and the Canadian Gaming Association on their reopening plans.

Richard Taylor also mentioned that the 50-person restriction, along with the fact that table games are not permitted, does not support the reopening of the two land-based casinos. The Fallsview Casino Resort has a casino floor that spans over 200,000 square feet, while Casino Niagara offers 95,000 square feet of gaming entertainment. It's for this reason that they are focusing all their attention on ensuring that the plans for reopening support the long-term sustainability of their business. The president is also ensuring that their safety protocols and health are based on medical evidence and science to support the safety and health of their customers and workforce.

Even during the last 12 months, the president was reminded of how extraordinary their associates were as they continued to provide support for their community with hours of volunteer work and holiday food drives. The two casinos are looking forward to the end of this pandemic when they can welcome back their loyal customers and operate at full capacity.

Jim Diodati, the Mayor of Niagara Falls, has been standing up for the province to revisit the limit of only allowing 50 people at a time when it comes to land-based casinos. He also stated that a percentage of players, based on the facility's size, would be a far better approach moving forward. Diodati also mentioned that he was highly impressed with the guidelines and safety protocols that have been implemented at the resorts during a tour of the land-based casinos.

Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino Resort have sent more than $1 million to ensure the two gambling establishments are ready to open in a safe and secure manner. However, according to the medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, the decision to reopen with a bigger capacity ultimately lies with the provincial government.

Online Casinos in Canada Remains the Best Alternative

Even though land-based casinos are still far from reopening their doors at full capacity while also providing services like restaurants, spas, bars, and valet services, players in Canada can still enjoy slots, table games, and video poker thanks to the upsurge of online casinos. Not only is the game variety far more superior when compared to land-based casinos but players will also be able to play casino games for free before making any real money wagers. What makes it even more appealing is the promotions and bonuses on offer that don't exist when you visit a land-based casino.

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