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Posted: May 28, 2021

B.C. casinos preparing for safe reopening

BCLC and its private-sector gambling service providers are planning for the safe reopening of casinos and community gaming centres as early as July 1.

“We’re excited to be one step closer towards reopening the casino industry and to be included in step three of B.C.’s restart plan to safely bring people back together,” said Lynda Cavanaugh, BCLC’s Interim President and CEO. “Casinos offer great – and safe – entertainment and socialization, while also generating revenue for provincial initiatives, community programs and First Nations.”

Specific reopening details for casinos are being developed through consultation between representatives from BCLC and its service providers, ministry staff, public-health officials and WorkSafe BC.

Locally, St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino is now open for golf, dining and accommodations but the casino remains closed until it gets the all-clear from the B.C. government.

Since B.C. gambling facilities temporarily closed in March 2020, BCLC and its service providers have been working behind-the-scenes on preparations to bring players safely back together. BCLC says when gambling facilities reopen, players will see changes to support a careful and safe restart, including:

  • At least two metres of space between table games, slot machines and other gambling equipment to support physical distancing.
  • Physical barriers (such as plexi-glass) where physical distancing is not possible or where casino employees, such as dealers or cash-cage staff, must interact with players.
  • Reduced occupancy 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.
  • Adjusted availability of table games to those in which cards can be dealt face up; players will not be permitted to touch cards which the exception of Squeeze Baccarat, which utilizes one-time use cards.

Casino staff will be required to complete detailed training about enhanced health and safety protocols and will continue to monitor capacity and other facility standards, including air quality, BCLC said.

The design of ventilation systems for casinos and community gaming centres is highly specialized and systems meet or exceed all air-quality standards. Air changes occur frequently per hour.

BCLC conducts and manages lottery, casino, bingo and online gambling on behalf of the province for the benefit of British Columbians. Private-sector casino service providers operate gambling facilities under contract with BCLC and directly employ approximately 10,000 British Columbians.

In 2019/20, casinos and community gaming centres generated $929 million of the $1.3 billion in net income that BCLC delivered to the Province of B.C. to support investments in healthcare and education, community programs and First Nations. Host communities of casinos and community gaming centres receive a 10 per cent share of net gaming revenue generated by gambling facilities within their jurisdiction when they are operating, and B.C First Nations share in seven per cent of total net gaming revenue collected annually throughout the province.

Lead image: Some of the enhanced health and safety measures at B.C. casinos. BCLC photo

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