As part of Ontario’s reopening plan, Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands plans to open its doors on Friday.

The Thousand Islands Casino is one of Great Canadian Gaming’s 26 properties, which are located across Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Great Canadian Gaming plans to open 11 casinos in Ontario.

Chuck Keeling, executive vice-president of Great Canadian Gaming, said, referring to the host municipality, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands that “Recognizing we will be operating with a reduced capacity to support physical distancing, we don’t expect there to be any significant issues for the township. In fact, it’s our hope we are deemed a positive impact in that approximately 125 of our team members are returning to work and that the township benefits from gaming revenue as a host municipality.” 

Due to health authorities and changing COVID-19 rules, Great Canadian Gaming’s casinos across Ontario have been closed and reopened several times since late September 2020, however they can now reopen with a reduced gaming capacity to allow for social distancing.

According to Great Canadian Gaming, the Thousand Islands casino opened twice and closed three times between March 15 and April 2, 2020.

Township Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke said that “We’re happy to see that the phasing allows them to reopen; they’re just like any business in our municipality. Without the people they don’t run, and they’ve been severely limited for an extra-long period of time,”

She added that “Make no mistake that those funds we have historically relied on, we would obviously love to see them come back on line because it will make things much easier on a capital project point of view … but more importantly our residents employed by that corporation that have been off for many, many months and we’re hopeful that they can get back up and running, and running full-tilt.”

Deputy Mayor Jeff Lackie during Monday’s council meeting said that “A common misconception is there’s OLG and there’s Shorelines Casino.

OLG is the government, basically. Shorelines is the new owner. So the money comes, funnels through Shorelines to OLG then to us.”

Before the pandemic, the OLG paid host municipalities a total of $65.5 million in annual community host payments, according to Great Canadian Gaming officials. Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands supported 61 different vendors prior to the pandemic.

Great Canadian Gaming will include screening measures for customers and employees while following to protocols, such as plexiglass barriers between staff and guests at security podiums and signs around the casinos indicating health and safety measures incorporated throughout the facility.

Between machines, there will be plexiglass barriers; however, slot machines that do not allow for social distance will be closed. Where applicable, the number of players at all live table games will be reduced. There is also a temporary suspension of the buffet at casinos, although there are alternative options.