Durham casinos not taking chances with coronavirus

News May 25, 2020 by Chris Hall DurhamRegion.com

DURHAM — Gaming house guests can expect to see changes when the doors to Durham’s casinos swing open as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Fewer customers, Plexiglas shields and face coverings will be among the tweaks gambling enthusiasts will notice as they stream back into the Durham casinos whenever the province relaxes the rules about mass public gatherings, says the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

“The reopening of the casinos in Ontario will occur when it is permitted by the province and the service providers responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 27 casinos across Ontario are ready to open and operate in a manner that complies with appropriate safety protocols,” said Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for OLG.

Ontario recently released its three-phased reopening plan for the province, with the first stage allowing some businesses — such as hardware outlets and street-front stores, as well as golf courses and marinas — to open to the public around the May long weekend.

But, added Bitonti, “it’s unclear when Phase 2 and Phase 3 will launch, and where casinos fit in these plans.”

The Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island near Port Perry and Casino Ajax were shuttered in March at the outset of the coronavirus crisis, which has also delayed the opening of the Pickering Casino Resort.    

When those facilities open, new protocols in place at most retail store outlets will also be utilized at the Durham casinos to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We are working collaboratively with the service providers and the regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), to ensure appropriate health and safety protocols, informed by public health, will be in place for the protection of all staff and customers, as part of the casino reopening plans,” said Bitonti.

He added that “we can expect the casino reopening plans to align with public health guidance to deter the spread of COVID-19,” citing examples such as physical distancing of at least two metres “achieved in part by admitting fewer customers,” as well as the use of face coverings and ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for customers.

Other examples include the implementation of physical barriers such as Plexiglas partitions and enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces, said Bitonti.

Corey Dalton, the president of Unifor Local 1090, which represents Durham’s unionized casino workers, said the safety of employees will be of utmost importance when the gaming centres reopen.

“Local 1090 will collaborate closely with (operator) Great Canadian Gaming to ensure the safety of our members (is) the absolute top-priority when the casinos reopen. Our members are extremely eager to get back to work and get back to providing guests with a world-class gaming experience,” he said. “Local 1090 representatives will be carefully examining all available safeguards and will advocate for any measures that will help provide our members and our guests with a safe gaming experience. Increased sanitation of gaming equipment, protective screens, limited seating, reduced capacity, personal protective equipment and guest-screening prior to entry are all options that will be discussed with the employer by Local 1090 representatives.”

Exactly when the casinos will open again is unknown, noted Dalton.

“Local 1090 will not speculate on an opening date. We are confident that all stakeholders (Great Canadian Gaming, Unifor Local 1090 and OLG) will closely follow public health recommendations before returning to business. At this point, an opening date is unknown. We have received reassurances from Great Canadian Gaming that a joint health and safety committee will collaborate on solutions to return to work when the time is appropriate,” said the local union president.

Dalton also added there’s “no time line at this point” for the various amenities associated with the casinos, such as restaurants, to reopen.

“We are confident that all stakeholders will closely monitor public health recommendations to ensure the safe opening of the facility. It is possible that opening could be in phases; however, no plans have been discussed,” he said.

Once the province gives casinos the green light to reopen, it could take only days to get the gaming houses up and running.

“Ontario casinos are required to follow very strict procedures in accordance with AGCO regulations,” said Dalton. “However, in instances where casinos have been forced to close in the past, startup only requires a short period of time, typically less than 48 hours.”

And when those facilities reopen, Local 1090 officials do not anticipate any permanent reductions in staff.

"Pickering Casino Resort was scheduled to open to the public when the temporary closures were announced. (That casino) is expected to bring thousands of new, high-quality employment opportunities to the Durham Region. Local 1090 anticipates very little, if any, employment loss — if there are any reductions, we expect them to be short-term,” said Dalton, adding those affected individuals would be provided the opportunity to be redeployed into other classifications under the terms of their collective agreement.

Currently, there are 620 Unifor members at the Great Blue Heron Casino and another 230 at Casino Ajax. Dalton expects there to be more than 1,500 members at the Pickering Casino Resort.

As for the quarterly payments distributed to Scugog and Ajax for hosting the casinos, the OLG’s Bitonti said that it’s expected both municipalities will be receiving far fewer dollars.    

“OLG’s payments to host municipalities are based on a formula set out in current agreements. Host payments are calculated on a percentage of revenue generated by the gaming site,” he explained. “As the casinos have been closed since March 16 and there is no gaming revenue during the closure period, OLG expects the next quarterly payment (covering the period April 1 to June 30) to host municipalities to be impacted.”

Bitonti declined to estimate how much revenue the OLG has lost through the closure of all its casinos, as well as the Durham casinos individually.

 

Durham casinos not taking chances with coronavirus

When gaming houses reopen, new safety precautions will be in place

News May 25, 2020 by Chris Hall DurhamRegion.com

DURHAM — Gaming house guests can expect to see changes when the doors to Durham’s casinos swing open as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Fewer customers, Plexiglas shields and face coverings will be among the tweaks gambling enthusiasts will notice as they stream back into the Durham casinos whenever the province relaxes the rules about mass public gatherings, says the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

“The reopening of the casinos in Ontario will occur when it is permitted by the province and the service providers responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 27 casinos across Ontario are ready to open and operate in a manner that complies with appropriate safety protocols,” said Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for OLG.

Ontario recently released its three-phased reopening plan for the province, with the first stage allowing some businesses — such as hardware outlets and street-front stores, as well as golf courses and marinas — to open to the public around the May long weekend.

Related Content

But, added Bitonti, “it’s unclear when Phase 2 and Phase 3 will launch, and where casinos fit in these plans.”

The Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island near Port Perry and Casino Ajax were shuttered in March at the outset of the coronavirus crisis, which has also delayed the opening of the Pickering Casino Resort.    

When those facilities open, new protocols in place at most retail store outlets will also be utilized at the Durham casinos to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We are working collaboratively with the service providers and the regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), to ensure appropriate health and safety protocols, informed by public health, will be in place for the protection of all staff and customers, as part of the casino reopening plans,” said Bitonti.

He added that “we can expect the casino reopening plans to align with public health guidance to deter the spread of COVID-19,” citing examples such as physical distancing of at least two metres “achieved in part by admitting fewer customers,” as well as the use of face coverings and ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for customers.

Other examples include the implementation of physical barriers such as Plexiglas partitions and enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces, said Bitonti.

Corey Dalton, the president of Unifor Local 1090, which represents Durham’s unionized casino workers, said the safety of employees will be of utmost importance when the gaming centres reopen.

“Local 1090 will collaborate closely with (operator) Great Canadian Gaming to ensure the safety of our members (is) the absolute top-priority when the casinos reopen. Our members are extremely eager to get back to work and get back to providing guests with a world-class gaming experience,” he said. “Local 1090 representatives will be carefully examining all available safeguards and will advocate for any measures that will help provide our members and our guests with a safe gaming experience. Increased sanitation of gaming equipment, protective screens, limited seating, reduced capacity, personal protective equipment and guest-screening prior to entry are all options that will be discussed with the employer by Local 1090 representatives.”

Exactly when the casinos will open again is unknown, noted Dalton.

“Local 1090 will not speculate on an opening date. We are confident that all stakeholders (Great Canadian Gaming, Unifor Local 1090 and OLG) will closely follow public health recommendations before returning to business. At this point, an opening date is unknown. We have received reassurances from Great Canadian Gaming that a joint health and safety committee will collaborate on solutions to return to work when the time is appropriate,” said the local union president.

Dalton also added there’s “no time line at this point” for the various amenities associated with the casinos, such as restaurants, to reopen.

“We are confident that all stakeholders will closely monitor public health recommendations to ensure the safe opening of the facility. It is possible that opening could be in phases; however, no plans have been discussed,” he said.

Once the province gives casinos the green light to reopen, it could take only days to get the gaming houses up and running.

“Ontario casinos are required to follow very strict procedures in accordance with AGCO regulations,” said Dalton. “However, in instances where casinos have been forced to close in the past, startup only requires a short period of time, typically less than 48 hours.”

And when those facilities reopen, Local 1090 officials do not anticipate any permanent reductions in staff.

"Pickering Casino Resort was scheduled to open to the public when the temporary closures were announced. (That casino) is expected to bring thousands of new, high-quality employment opportunities to the Durham Region. Local 1090 anticipates very little, if any, employment loss — if there are any reductions, we expect them to be short-term,” said Dalton, adding those affected individuals would be provided the opportunity to be redeployed into other classifications under the terms of their collective agreement.

Currently, there are 620 Unifor members at the Great Blue Heron Casino and another 230 at Casino Ajax. Dalton expects there to be more than 1,500 members at the Pickering Casino Resort.

As for the quarterly payments distributed to Scugog and Ajax for hosting the casinos, the OLG’s Bitonti said that it’s expected both municipalities will be receiving far fewer dollars.    

“OLG’s payments to host municipalities are based on a formula set out in current agreements. Host payments are calculated on a percentage of revenue generated by the gaming site,” he explained. “As the casinos have been closed since March 16 and there is no gaming revenue during the closure period, OLG expects the next quarterly payment (covering the period April 1 to June 30) to host municipalities to be impacted.”

Bitonti declined to estimate how much revenue the OLG has lost through the closure of all its casinos, as well as the Durham casinos individually.

 

Durham casinos not taking chances with coronavirus

When gaming houses reopen, new safety precautions will be in place

News May 25, 2020 by Chris Hall DurhamRegion.com

DURHAM — Gaming house guests can expect to see changes when the doors to Durham’s casinos swing open as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Fewer customers, Plexiglas shields and face coverings will be among the tweaks gambling enthusiasts will notice as they stream back into the Durham casinos whenever the province relaxes the rules about mass public gatherings, says the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

“The reopening of the casinos in Ontario will occur when it is permitted by the province and the service providers responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 27 casinos across Ontario are ready to open and operate in a manner that complies with appropriate safety protocols,” said Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for OLG.

Ontario recently released its three-phased reopening plan for the province, with the first stage allowing some businesses — such as hardware outlets and street-front stores, as well as golf courses and marinas — to open to the public around the May long weekend.

Related Content

But, added Bitonti, “it’s unclear when Phase 2 and Phase 3 will launch, and where casinos fit in these plans.”

The Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island near Port Perry and Casino Ajax were shuttered in March at the outset of the coronavirus crisis, which has also delayed the opening of the Pickering Casino Resort.    

When those facilities open, new protocols in place at most retail store outlets will also be utilized at the Durham casinos to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We are working collaboratively with the service providers and the regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), to ensure appropriate health and safety protocols, informed by public health, will be in place for the protection of all staff and customers, as part of the casino reopening plans,” said Bitonti.

He added that “we can expect the casino reopening plans to align with public health guidance to deter the spread of COVID-19,” citing examples such as physical distancing of at least two metres “achieved in part by admitting fewer customers,” as well as the use of face coverings and ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for customers.

Other examples include the implementation of physical barriers such as Plexiglas partitions and enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces, said Bitonti.

Corey Dalton, the president of Unifor Local 1090, which represents Durham’s unionized casino workers, said the safety of employees will be of utmost importance when the gaming centres reopen.

“Local 1090 will collaborate closely with (operator) Great Canadian Gaming to ensure the safety of our members (is) the absolute top-priority when the casinos reopen. Our members are extremely eager to get back to work and get back to providing guests with a world-class gaming experience,” he said. “Local 1090 representatives will be carefully examining all available safeguards and will advocate for any measures that will help provide our members and our guests with a safe gaming experience. Increased sanitation of gaming equipment, protective screens, limited seating, reduced capacity, personal protective equipment and guest-screening prior to entry are all options that will be discussed with the employer by Local 1090 representatives.”

Exactly when the casinos will open again is unknown, noted Dalton.

“Local 1090 will not speculate on an opening date. We are confident that all stakeholders (Great Canadian Gaming, Unifor Local 1090 and OLG) will closely follow public health recommendations before returning to business. At this point, an opening date is unknown. We have received reassurances from Great Canadian Gaming that a joint health and safety committee will collaborate on solutions to return to work when the time is appropriate,” said the local union president.

Dalton also added there’s “no time line at this point” for the various amenities associated with the casinos, such as restaurants, to reopen.

“We are confident that all stakeholders will closely monitor public health recommendations to ensure the safe opening of the facility. It is possible that opening could be in phases; however, no plans have been discussed,” he said.

Once the province gives casinos the green light to reopen, it could take only days to get the gaming houses up and running.

“Ontario casinos are required to follow very strict procedures in accordance with AGCO regulations,” said Dalton. “However, in instances where casinos have been forced to close in the past, startup only requires a short period of time, typically less than 48 hours.”

And when those facilities reopen, Local 1090 officials do not anticipate any permanent reductions in staff.

"Pickering Casino Resort was scheduled to open to the public when the temporary closures were announced. (That casino) is expected to bring thousands of new, high-quality employment opportunities to the Durham Region. Local 1090 anticipates very little, if any, employment loss — if there are any reductions, we expect them to be short-term,” said Dalton, adding those affected individuals would be provided the opportunity to be redeployed into other classifications under the terms of their collective agreement.

Currently, there are 620 Unifor members at the Great Blue Heron Casino and another 230 at Casino Ajax. Dalton expects there to be more than 1,500 members at the Pickering Casino Resort.

As for the quarterly payments distributed to Scugog and Ajax for hosting the casinos, the OLG’s Bitonti said that it’s expected both municipalities will be receiving far fewer dollars.    

“OLG’s payments to host municipalities are based on a formula set out in current agreements. Host payments are calculated on a percentage of revenue generated by the gaming site,” he explained. “As the casinos have been closed since March 16 and there is no gaming revenue during the closure period, OLG expects the next quarterly payment (covering the period April 1 to June 30) to host municipalities to be impacted.”

Bitonti declined to estimate how much revenue the OLG has lost through the closure of all its casinos, as well as the Durham casinos individually.