Ontario to End Full Lockdown, Reopen Casinos on January 31

Ontario will soon end another nightmarish lockdown that saw casinos shutter their operations again and continue to suffer from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Just like before, the measures will be lifted gradually. The provincial government did not decide to close down businesses lightly earlier this month, but the good news is that the 28 OLG gaming venues are going to return at half-capacity at the end of the month.

Casinos Reopen This Month

The re-opening date is set for January 31. Commenting on these developments, Tony Bitoni, a spokesperson for the OLG, argued that there would be specific prerequisites for players and guests to enter. The screening will be required at all facilities in the province, and so will proof of vaccination.

Ontario is essentially introducing ease of public health restrictions on a provincial level across all businesses. The pandemic has had an impact on jobs in Ontario’s gambling industry. Before COVID-19 broke out, some 19,000 people were employed in the province’s casinos. There is no up-to-date data that adequately assess how many of these people are still employed and what capacity.

Ontario is also experimenting with opening indoor facilities without any limitation on occupancy, provided that the people in attendance have complied with vaccination mandates in the country, whether this includes two doses of a vaccine or a booster shot. Fallsview Casino Resort’s return. Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati estimates that casino closures so far have cost the city close to $20 million in missed revenue opportunities and associated economic activities.

In other words, businesses that may have benefited from having casinos in the city opened suffered as well. Those costs were not stated by Diodati, who outlined the numbers for Global News, a local media outlet. The latest lockdown was introduced at the beginning of the month.

Some Challenges Remain

As land-based casinos struggle with restrictions, that is not the only thing they ought to worry about. A new report commissioned by the biggest operator in Ontario, Great Canadian Gaming, has argued that the introduction of online gambling will result in losses to the tune of $2.5 billion for existing operators.

Sports organizations have also been impacted. National Hockey League franchises have lost attendance and revenue as lockdowns have made it impossible to muster a live audience or even have events set up. Canada is home to 114 casinos, and some 183,000 people are employed in the industry. They have all been impacted by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Great Canadian Gaming has made another appeal to allow local operators to take control of legal online betting lest the sector continues to suffer.

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