Casinos in B.C. could reopen as early as Canada Day, but it’s safe to say they won’t look the same as they did before they were shut down more than a year ago.
On Tuesday, the province announced a four-step reopening plan, with each phase requiring low case counts and strong vaccination rates.
People who haven’t been able to play a slot machine or bet on a hand of blackjack since March 2020 will be able to do so in Phase Three.
BCLC’s Lara Gerrits outlines some of the COVID-19 precautions people should expect.
She explains that “Players will notice that they look a little bit different than they did more than a year ago. There’ll be things like spacing between table games and slot machines; there’ll be new physical barriers – plexiglass – where physical distancing is not possible; capacity will be limited to about 65 per cent of active gaming seats … There won’t be congregation of people allowed to occur when we do reopen.”
Reopening casinos will not only allow for the resumption of a pre-pandemic activity, but it will also allow thousands of British Columbians to return to work and revenue to come into the province’s coffers.
Gerrits also added that “Casinos offer safe entertainment and a socialization option for people. We’re excited to be a part of bringing people back together into this new normal that we’re all embarking on. At the same time, it’s important that casinos continue to generate revenue for provincial initiatives things like health care, education, community programs, and of course a share of the gaming revenue in B.C. and is also distributed to First Nations.”
Casinos and gaming brought in over $1.3 billion in revenue in 2019. Casinos, racetracks, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments employ 37,000 people in British Columbia, with 10,000 people directly employed by them.