It has been many weeks since casinos were given June 20 as their reopen date and the pent-up demand showed outside the Northern Lights Casino in Prince Albert Sunday morning.
The location opened for the first time in six months and residents were eager to return to their gaming. A long line up was waiting outside the front entrance. They opened their doors at 10 a.m. but a person in line mentioned some were lined up since an hour early.
General manager of the casino Richard Ahenakew explained how great it is to be open once again.
“Absolutely it’s been a long six months, it’s been a lonely six months being in the building but we’re happy to be open. Staff are happy to be back and we’re more than happy to have our staff back. It’s an incredible feeling,” Ahenakew told.
He confirmed there was an early lineup but said most of the people arrived just before they opened. He said there is a process of getting people into the building such as asking guests COVID related questions and everyone will need a players club card to be able to get in.
“That’s why it slows down the line but once we get going and our staff are back the lines will go pretty quick,” he said.
Although the maximum number of people allowed in the building is 150, which is below the casino’s full capacity, Ahenakew said they’re hoping for a good turn out throughout the first week of reopening.
“It’s still good to have that number. It gets a lot of people in. People won’t have to wait as long but again it’s such an unknown we don’t know how many people are comfortable coming out,” he said.
He explained they’re following all of the Saskatchewan Health Authority guidelines and added some machines are not open for use due to different reasons and guests are not allowed to take food and drink to any games. Everyone will also need to be wearing masks. The restaurant is open as well but has limited capacity.
Vaccines and gaming
Ahenakew explained those who are looking to get their COVID-19 vaccination can do so at the casino for the next three days. On June 21, 22 and 23 the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation is going to do a vaccination clinic on site.
“We’re happy to have everyone back,” Ahenakew said. “Big shoutout to all the supporters who’ve been knocking on our door and calling us to say when we’re going to be open.”