uesday marked the one-year anniversary of when Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara in Ontario closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Niagara Casinos has remained closed while other businesses have reopened during the past 12 months. Despite preparing the two Niagara Falls sites to operate safely in a COVID-19 environment, provincial guidelines only allow casinos to open to 50 people at a time. Casino and political officials have argued it is not worth reopening the two casinos, which can typically handle 11,000 people at a time, for just 50.
“Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara do not have a confirmed reopening date,” said Richard Taylor, president of Niagara Casinos, as reported by Niagara Falls Review. “We continue to work with the Canadian Gaming Association, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, Niagara Region Public Health and emergency services, and infectious disease prevention experts on our reopening plans.”
Taylor said the restrictions of a 50-person limit, with no table games permitted, “do not support the reopening of our business.” “With expansive casino properties, over 200,000 square feet of gaming floor at Fallsview Casino Resort, and over 95,000 square feet at Casino Niagara, we are focused on ensuring our reopening plans support the long-term sustainability of our business and that our health and safety protocols are based on science and medical evidence to support the health and safety of our workforce and customers," he added.
“Even during this difficult year, we were reminded of how incredible our associates are as they continued to support our community with a holiday food drive and countless hours of volunteer work. We are greatly looking forward to the day that we can welcome back our great people and anticipate that our full-time and part-time associates will return as we are able to reopen the properties,” Taylor said.
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati has been advocating for the province to revisit its 50-person limit for casinos, arguing a percentage of patrons, based on the size of the facility, would be a better approach. Diodati said he has toured the casinos and was impressed by safety protocols in place.
“They spent over $1 million making it ready in a safe way. They’re just saying, ‘What would it take?’ and they’re not getting any answers,” he said. “It’s maddening. If there was a percentage, at least we could justify it, we could understand it, and work toward it.”
Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, said allowing casinos to reopen with greater capacity is “really a decision” of the provincial government.