Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands plans to open its doors on Friday as part of Step Three of Ontario's reopening plan.
The Thousand Islands Casino is one of 26 properties owned by Great Canadian Gaming that are located in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Great Canadian Gaming will be opening 11 of its Ontario casinos.
"Recognizing we will be operating with a reduced capacity to support physical distancing, we don't expect there to be any significant issues for the township. In fact, it's our hope we are deemed a positive impact in that approximately 125 of our team members are returning to work and that the township benefits from gaming revenue as a host municipality," Chuck Keeling, executive vice-president of Great Canadian Gaming, said, referring to the host municipality, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.
Since late September 2020, Great Canadian Gaming's casinos across Ontario have gone through a series of closures and reopenings due to health authorities and changing COVID-19 restrictions, but they can now open and have a reduced gaming capacity to allow for social distancing.
The Thousand Islands casino had previously opened twice and closed three times between March 15 and April 2, 2020, according to Great Canadian Gaming.
"We're happy to see that the phasing allows them to reopen; they're just like any business in our municipality. Without the people they don't run, and they've been severely limited for an extra-long period of time," said township Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke.
She continued: "Make no mistake that those funds we have historically relied on, we would obviously love to see them come back on line because it will make things much easier on a capital project point of view ... but more importantly our residents employed by that corporation that have been off for many, many months and we're hopeful that they can get back up and running, and running full-tilt."
"A common misconception is there's OLG and there's Shorelines Casino. OLG is the government, basically. Shorelines is the new owner. So the money comes, funnels through Shorelines to OLG then to us," said Deputy Mayor Jeff Lackie during Monday's council meeting.
A total of $65.5 million in community host payments made by OLG annually to host municipalities before the pandemic fell to negligible levels, Great Canadian Gaming officials said. Pre-pandemic, Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands supported 61 different vendors.
While following protocols, Great Canadian Gaming will have screening measures for guests and employees, including plexiglass barriers between staff and guests at security podiums, as well as signs around the casinos that indicate health and safety measures incorporated throughout the facility.
There will be plexiglass barriers between machines; however, slot machines that don’t offer the ability to social distance will be closed. There will also be a reduced number of players at all live table games, where applicable. There is a temporary suspension of the buffet at casinos as well, but other options are available.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times