Coronavirus has closed down everything including casinos. But now as coronavirus restrictions start to ease across the world, Canadians may soon be able to hit the slots and poker tables as casinos slowly will re-start. Here we will understand How COVID-19 Changed Canada Casinos.
But the coronavirus has changed the entire world and so is the scene of the gambling floor. It may look different. You will find spaced out slot machines, dealers behind plexiglass shields, and sanitizer stations at every corner.
And soon, customers can gamble using digital payments, like Apple Pay, as per Paul Burns, president, and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. Let’s find out How COVID-19 Changed Canada Casinos.
Vulnerable Points at Casino
He said they are working on the cashless payment option since last spring, so it’s fortuitous timing. But the timing of this pandemic and technology has escalated this situation.
Casinos closed all over the country in March when the pandemic was at its peak. It was impossible to stop the risk of exposure in a packed venue between handling cash, rolling shared dice, and touching screens on slot machines. Maintaining social distancing was a nightmare in a crowded casino.
At the casino you have to touch a lot of things like poker chips, slot machines handle, doorknobs that too within ventilation. All casinos are usually air-conditioned, and aid conditioning facilitates COVID.
As per Furness, infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, opening casinos during a pandemic is not their priority and recommends Canadians go outside instead as it’s safer. But he also added it is still possible to reopen casinos safely.
Alberta is the province having safe casinos, which reopened on June 12. With the news, this province customized it for businesses to meet to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Many other provinces, like Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia, are still struggling to figure out ways to open casinos keeping patrons and employees safe.
As per Burns, more casinos may start opening in July as they got the approval from health officials.
Guidelines for Re-opening
It does take a bit of work for casino environments to get ready, so Ontario started preparing a few weeks ago. Casino owners are taking this seriously and creating guidelines for a safe working environment for employees and also an entertaining environment for customers.
The casinos will run at 50 percent occupancy so people can gamble while physical distancing.
Every other machine may be none-functional, chairs removed. The cleaning process will be enhanced and will reduce the number of people at tables. It will also have enhanced filters and fresh airflow. It’s more expensive to do so, but it is necessary to ensure there will be fresh air.
Slots up and running in Alberta
The Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) said as part of casino re-open requirements slot machines have to be spaced out every two meters, unless separated by a physical barrier. Markers are to be placed on the casino floor for spacing for those waiting to play.
Table Games are not permitted
At the River Cree Resort and Edmonton Casino, plastic separators are there between every slot machine, sanitization stations are there, and masks are available to staff and patrons.
Marketing director Jayne Behm says that now three-fold cleaning staff are working and an “extreme clean team” for wiping down high-touch points are there. Employees from other departments are available to walk the floor and remind guests to physically distance.
The same is the scene in many casinos in Las Vegas, which also opens to the public earlier in June. You will find hand-washing areas, spaced-out seating, and plexiglass barriers. All the employees have to wear masks, but guests have to wear face masks at table games that have no barriers.
Cashless Gambling promoted
Although Canada does not have any cashless payment options in casinos, the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) expects it to get it soon. As per the recent release of standards for the cashless system, they are waiting to hear back feedback from the industry.
Burns said as per the feedback they will allow jurisdictions to see how they can integrate them into their provinces.
As per the health officials, the coronavirus can survive on paper currency, but that risk is lower than to person-to-person spread. Still, many businesses, like grocery stores, have banned cash transactions.
Things to Consider
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that cashless payment methods are a good idea where possible. It also suggests “tap-and-pay to limit the handling of cash” as ways to decrease the spread of coronavirus. But as per Furness going cashless is not the way to stop the spread of the virus. The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 in casinos is to decrease the number of people in casinos, make people and employees wear masks, and have hand sanitizer ready at every corner. This is how How COVID-19 Changed Canada Casinos.