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Ontario prepares to reopen gaming venues


The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has taken the first step towards allowing the province’s casinos and charitable gaming centres to reopen after more than four months closed in response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

OLG has now set out the requirements for land-based gaming venues to return to business in the province as part of the local government’s stage 3 reopening plan. This allows almost all businesses to reopen, as the state emerges from its Covid-19 lockdown that saw all gaming venues closed from March 16.

All casinos in the province are now eligible to reopen, except for Caesars Windsor, which is in the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region, which remains in stage 2 of the government’s reopening plan.

No exact opening date has yet been set, as this will be determined based on the individual venues’ preparations. The reopening date for each site will depend on its readiness and commercial viability to operate under the imposed restrictions.

All venues are required to have a safety plan for the site in place, in accordance with government guidelines. Such plans must be reviewed by an appropriate expert before submission to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

The requirements to reopen gaming venues in the region include mandatory masks or face coverings for both patrons and staff, all persons on-site to adhere to two-metre social distancing. Each establishment will be limited to a maximum of 50 customers, while casinos will not be permitted to offer table games.

In a joint statement with OLG, AGCO also announced that the organizations will continue to work together to reduce the administrative burden on gaming venues.

They will collaborate throughout the rest of the year and provide regular updates to the industry, with the hope of completing the task of red tape reduction before 2021.

In the meantime, AGCO will not enforce the local government’s red tape reduction standards, to allow for the discussions to take place.