Wednesday was a significant moment for Great Canadian Gaming Corp., when the Toronto-based company reopened its two Nova Scotia casinos after a six-week break.
On April 22, GCGC’s Halifax casino was closed while Nova Scotia authorities sought to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Atlantic province’s capital region. The Sydney casino was likewise shut down five days later, as the province-wide shutdown order was applied.
Nova Scotia is on Phase 2 of its reopening plan, according to the government’s website. This means that casinos and other places using video lottery terminals can operate at up to 50% capacity. They must wear masks and abide to the 2-meter social distance standard for those outside of their “close social group.”
In addition, casinos must close by midnight.
The Halifax casino announced its hours on Facebook, saying it will be open everyday from 11 a.m. to midnight, with high-limit tables opening at 4 p.m. and the main floor tables open on weekends from 2 pm to close.
Nova Scotia will progress to Phase 3 if all goes well in the following two weeks. The casinos will be able to operate at 75% capacity while maintaining social distancing and mask requirements. The operating hours would be extended till 1 a.m
The casinos might start operating at full capacity on July 14, the scheduled start date for Phase 4, while following to the distancing and mask restrictions.
Nova Scotia Casinos Reopening a “Precursor”
Closing the Nova Scotia casinos was a blow to GCGC. They were shut down for seven months at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. Both locations reopened on October 5, however the Halifax location was closed again from November 26 until January 11.
When they both closed in late April, the company’s Casino New Brunswick was the only commercial casino in Canada remaining open.
For the second time since at least Christmas Eve, the company’s Ontario casinos have been closed. Since Oct. 9, less than two weeks after reopening, Casino Woodbine has been closed.
The casinos in British Columbia have been closed for 15 months, with no plans to reopen since the closure order was issued on March 16, 2020.
Interim CEO Terrance Doyle said in a statement that “We are excited to reopen both of our Casino Nova Scotia properties, call our team members back to work, and welcome back our guests. We feel this important development is a precursor to the reopenings we are also eagerly anticipating in British Columbia and Ontario, based on the success of the country’s vaccination program thus far.”
The company operates 26 gaming and entertainment venues across Canada.
Other Canadian Casinos Reopening
Unlike their American counterparts, who have recently set revenue records, Canadian casinos have been forced to close due to outbreaks in all provinces earlier this year. The country, which imports its medicine from the United States, ran out of vaccines to treat significant swaths of the population.
However, as the vaccine became more prevalent, America’s neighbor to the north has shot up the charts. According to Our World in Data, the country has become the top country in terms of the number of people who have received at least one dosage of the vaccine. On Tuesday, 65.4 percent of Canadians have received at least one shot.
Part of this is due to the country’s attempts to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible. It’s a calculated trade-off, which means people may have to wait months for their second shot instead of the suggested three or four weeks.
Still, the strategy has allowed casinos in other provinces to reopen. Century Casinos reopened its Alberta venues last week, while SaskGaming confirmed that its two Saskatchewan casinos will reopen on Sunday.