Let the good times, games and revenues roll.
View Royal Mayor David Screech said the announcement from the B. C. Lottery Corporation that casinos will reopen on July 1 is good news on a number of levels.
Elements Casino, the largest BCLC facility on Vancouver Island, shared revenue of between $4.5 and $5 million with six local municipalities including View Royal, and two First Nations before the pandemic shut down operations in March 2020.
“From our perspective and the others who share the revenue, that’s a significant change in a positive sense in our budgets,” Screech said. ”I think it’s wonderful news all around for the staff and company as well after being closed for about 15 months.”
Lynda Cavanaugh, interim president and CEO for BCLC, said in a May 26 media release that the industry is excited to be a step closer to reopening as part of step three of the province’s restart plan to bring people safely back together.
“Casinos offer great and safe entertainment and socialization, while also generating revenue for provincial initiatives, community programs and First Nations,” Cavanaugh said.
Specific details for reopening are being developed through consultation between BCLC representatives and service providers, ministry staff, public health officials, and WorkSafe BC.
When gambling facilities reopen, players will see a number of changes to support a careful and safe restart following behind-the-scenes preparations.
There will be at least two metres of space between table games, slot machines and other equipment, and the use of clear physical barriers where physical distancing is not possible, such as dealers or cash-cage staff.
Occupancy will be reduced to as many players as there are active seats available on the gaming floor, in combination with occupancy for amenities such as restaurants and lounges.
Table games will be adjusted to those where cards can be dealt face-up, with players not allowed to touch cards, except for Squeeze Baccarat, a one-time use card game.
Casino staff must complete detailed training regarding health and safety protocols and will continue to monitor capacity and other facility standards, including air quality. Existing ventilation systems already meet or exceed air quality standards, with air changes occurring frequently per hour.
According to Screech, casinos and community gaming centres generated $929 million of the $1.3 billion in net income BCLC delivered to the province, with the funds supporting education, healthcare, community programs and First Nations.