With casinos in Alberta remaining shuttered between March and June, the overall gaming revenue lost amounted to $500 million.
Alberta’s Gaming Revenue Falls Short of Projections
Casino properties in Alberta haven’t had it easy, but new measures that would loosen up restrictions for casino table games may be coming. With the COVID-19 pandemic still active globally and countries addressing the issue individually, casino gambling revenue has seen a steep decline everywhere, not least due to the suspension of casino table games.
Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews delivered a fiscal update last week, predicting some $500 million less this year from gaming revenue, after casinos were shuttered in March and only came back up online in June.
The measure was enacted to stem the spread of COVID-19. The original revenue forecast was for $1.4 billion but it came $500 million short. The slow recovery was partly because of the suspension of table games, which were banned when casinos reopened in June.
Casinos had to rearrange their casino floors to separate video lottery terminals and slots at least two meters apart or put in a physical barrier. Properties have been struggling to attract the same level of interest as well, with foot traffic at River Cree Resort and Casino slumming 35 per cent.
According to executive Vik Mahajan, the casino has been mostly half-full than normal, and the banquet halls restrictions on large indoors gatherings have been hurting business. Most of the shows that were expected to be hosted in the resort had to be pushed back for next year too.
Properties Cope despite Difficulties
That has been another spanner in the works as each event gathered around 2,400 people on average. Mahajan and fellow executives have already consulted with health experts and submitted a comprehensive plan as to how reopening the table games should proceed.
River Cree has 40 table games that are currently inoperable due to COVID-19 restrictions. Commenting for the Edmonton Journal, Mahajan had this to say:
“I think all of the operators are ready with a great plan for table games to open up with social distancing or barriers between people just like they have in slots.”
Meanwhile, the Alberta Health Department has received several proposals to allow the restart of certain properties and businesses, including the reopening of table games.
According to assistant communications director Sherene Khaw, the department is just several months from publishing the revised guidelines that would allow casinos to restart all of their segments.
Meanwhile, Alberta is faced with an overwhelming deficit amounting to $24.2 billion and the total revenue is down $11.5 billion this year at $38.4 billion. Liquor and gaming revenue both plummeted during the pandemic, which is not always a bad thing.
However, the casino industry will have to make sure it can operate even in the circumstances of a pandemic. This will only come with an official nod from authorities. The good news is one is possibly coming.