Great Canadian Gaming to reopen Nova Scotia properties from Oct 5; Ontario mayors ask Premier to review 50-person cap

In eastern Canada, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (TSX: GC) announced Monday the reopening of its gaming properties in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, from October 5, 2020.

Both Casino Nova Scotia properties were shut down on March 16, 2020, along with all of Canada’s casinos and casino amenities, to aid in the COVID-19 containment effort and in keeping with public health orders.

The two casinos will join the Richmond, B.C.-based company’s 11 properties in Ontario and 1 in New Brunswick, which are set to reopen from September 28, 2020, according to Great Canadian’s September 4 press release.

In Nova Scotia where in mid-June casinos were given initial approval to reopen for business, the company said earlier this month that it was working with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation (NSGC) on preparations required for its two properties in the province’s regulated gaming sector to reopen.

Reopening guidelines:

The property’s reopening will reportedly be based on “rigorous and detailed” health and safety protocol developed by Great Canadian, and in compliance with guidance from provincial health authorities. Modification of operations at both properties is to include a significantly reduced guest capacity to approximately 1/3 of past levels, a 40 percent reduction of slot machines, and the temporary closure of the majority of amenities.

In a press release, Chief Executive Officer for Great Canadian, Rod Baker, commented on the coming reopening, saying…

“With the reopening of our properties in Nova Scotia, we will have reopened in three of the four provinces we do business in.

“We want to thank the team at NSGC for working with us to achieve this important outcome for our team members, our guests, and other valued stakeholders,” continued Baker. “This is another important step for Great Canadian and our team and the reopening of our 25 properties across Canada.”

Ontario & New Brunswick:

Meanwhile, the company’s Ontario and New Brunswick properties will open on September 28, as stated, with the former limiting indoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people and no table games or “other amenities,” while the latter will limit guests to 25 percent of capacity, with the availability of its slot machines to be just over 50 percent, and most amenities suspended.

The provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia are the first to allow charitable gaming centers and casinos to open their doors to employees, customers, charities, and communities after being shuttered in mid-March.

Letter to Premier:

In a September 10, 2020, letter reportedly obtained by CTV News, 25 mayors from Ontario including Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, London, Hamilton, Woodstock, and Sudbury, that comprise the Casino Host Municipalities Group convey concern regarding the “significant job losses and economic impact” caused by the Province’s casino closures.

In their letter, the mayors ask the Premier, Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health to revisit the gaming industry’s proposed measures that would see the 50-person cap granted under Stage 3 COVID-19 rules this summer, increased to a “reasonable facility capacity.” The mayors say the cap is “not workable.”

According to the news agency, Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Gaming Association, Paul Burns, said…

“We want to open in a safe responsible manner. We think we can do that. With higher capacities than fifty people, but not huge capacities. We’re still talking very very reduced numbers.”

Health factors:

The letter sent on September 10 was, however, sent before local COVID-19 cases started to increase, said London, Ontario Mayor Ed Holder.

He says, “The Premier has made it clear his government is not going to expand beyond fifty, given the way the health factors have turned negatively in the province.” To which Holder reportedly said, “I can’t disagree with the Premier.”

The gaming industry, said Burns, would like to start a direct dialogue with provincial leadership, as reported by the source.

Some 17,000 employees of the gaming industry are presently out of work in Ontario, according to the Canadian Gaming Association.

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