Ontario Casino Operator “Delighted” Gaming Halls Will Reopen On Jan. 31

Written By Dave Briggs on January 21, 2022 - Last Updated on January 24, 2022
Casino Rama entrance

Rob Mitchell said he was delighted to hear Ontario’s gaming halls will reopen Jan. 31.

The Ontario government announced on Thursday casinos, bingo halls and other land-based gaming establishments can reopen at 50% capacity on Jan. 31. But, customers must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and wear a mask.

“We are delighted with (the) announcement from the provincial government and look forward to recalling our employees and welcoming our guests back to our casinos and restaurants,” said Mitchell, the director of communications and public affairs for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment.

“This is terrific news and establishes a firm calendar for a return to normal operations at all locations across Ontario. We will have more information to share on our reopening plans in the coming weeks.”

Further, it has been a tough two years of the province’s gaming industry. And the current month-long closure of all land-based gaming venues is just the latest business interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timeline of closures

The current closure is the fourth since the pandemic began.

Specifically, Ontario gaming halls were also closed:

  • March through most of September of 2020.
  • From December 2020 to February 2021.
  • Between April 2021 and July.

Before the pandemic, 19,000 people worked in Ontario’s casinos, say estimates.

Gyms, restaurants reopening too

Allowed to reopen on Jan. 31 are more than casinos and bingo halls. Also on the reopening list — with the same mandate for proof of vaccination and capacity limits of 50% — are the following:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food establishments without dancing.
  • Retailers, including shopping malls.
  • Gyms and non-spectator areas of sports facilities.
  • Movie theatres.
  • Meeting and event spaces.
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions.
  • Religious services, rites and ceremonies.
  • Closed on Jan. 5 were all of the above due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Further, spectator sports and concerts will also reopen to 50% capacity or up to 500 people, whichever is less.

Gateway has 12 Ontario locations

Gateway operates 12 of Ontario’s 28 casinos, including one of the province’s largest: Casino Rama in Orillia (photo). Also, the company has the Cascades Casino in Chatham, the Playtime Casino in Hanover, the Starlight Casino in Point Edward. Gateway-branded casinos are located in Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Clinton, London, Woodstock, Innisfil and Sarnia.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Before joining PlayOntario, Dave spent more than 25 years as a writer and editor, mainly covering horse racing in Canada. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Western University and was a 2018 inductee into the Communicators' Corner of the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Beyond a deep passion for family and music, Dave has a mostly-tragic, life-long love of Detroit sports teams. He lives in Port Stanley, Ontario with his wife and their beloved Vizsla named California.

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