Entertainment

Elements Casino prepares for reopening

Some employees at Elements Casino have returned to work in anticipation of the province allowing the facility to reopen later this month.

Chuck Keeling, executive vice president of stakeholders relations and responsible gambling for the Great Canadian Gaming Company, said on Monday that “core employees” have returned to work at the Brantford casino for retraining and to get the building prepped. The casino had about 570 employees prior to the COVID-19 pandemic being declared in March 2020.

Under the Ontario government’s plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures during the pandemic, casinos and bingo halls could open as early as July 26 as part of Phase 3.

Keeling said that date could potentially be bumped up a couple of days. The province moved into Phase 2 of reopening on June 30, two days earlier than originally planned.

But Keeling said a slightly earlier opening is just an assumption and Great Canadian Gaming hasn’t yet received any confirmation about when the casino will open or how it will operate.

“We’ve started to call back employees based on that assumption,” he said. “We’re calling back hundreds of team members across the province. And we just opened nine operations in British Columbia on Thursday. I think the employees were just as excited to be back as the guests. Some of them haven’t been working for a long time. For them, this is hopefully a step toward pre-COVID normalcy.”

Elements Casino closed when the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

It reopened on Sept. 28, 2020 with a limit of 50 patrons in the building. Only slot machine play was available. Table games, along with food and beverage outlets in the casino, remained closed.

The casino closed again on Dec. 20, 2020, reopening on Feb. 22. It has remained closed since March 21.

Keeling said returning employees will be given some refresher training, including updates on health and safety protocols. He said a lot of work to equip the casino with safety measures, such as installation of signs and barriers, has already been done.

If game tables are opened, said Keeling, they will have plexi-glass barriers separating each player and the dealer.

Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which operates Elements Casino, announced last November it had signed a deal to be bought by a U.S. private equity firm that values the casino operator at $3.3 billion. Apollo Global Management Inc. has agreed to pay $39 per share for the company. The sale is still in the works.

In addition to the Brantford casino, Great Canadian runs more than two dozen gaming, entertainment and hospitality facilities in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

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