Saskatchewan Casinos to Reopen on 20 June

Map of the province of Saskatchewan in Canada
Saskatchewan. Image Credit: Shutterstock

After an extended period of inactivity, brick-and-mortar casinos in Saskatchewan have been given the go-ahead to reopen on 20 June.

After a lengthy suspension of activities, land-based casinos in Saskatchewan are ready to reopen. The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority has advised that they will resume operations at each of its seven gambling venues on 20 June. All casinos will operate in a limited capacity. This is to comply with the mandatory safety and health measures per the provincial government guidelines.   

To curb the spread of COVID-19, the province went into a lockdown at the end of 2020. As a result, all casinos in Saskatchewan were forced to shut their doors and remain closed. Subsequently, casino employees and gamblers had to wait several months for slot machines and table games to resume.

Long-Awaited Reopening of Saskatchewan Casinos

The first nation Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority informed that its casinos would reopen on 20 June. Subsequently, the maximum patron capacity has been set at 150 individuals. Social distancing rules will also be enforced across casino games, with limited food and drinks services. The company remains hopeful that it will be able to increase its offerings once the restrictions are eased.

President of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, Zane Hansen, stated that the operator is very excited about reopening its Saskatchewan casinos. He ensured that the company has systematically implemented safety measures as the health of its players and staff remains their number one priority.

The Saskatchewan Gaming Authority has also provided a working hours schedule for its properties once they reopen. Bear Claw Casino and Living Sky Casino will open daily from 10 am to 2 am. Painted Hand Casino will be open for business daily from 10 am to 3 am.

The remainder of its gaming properties in Saskatchewan will have a slightly modified schedule. Gold Eagle Casino will operate from 10 am to 2 am Sunday to Thursday and from 10 am to 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Gold Horse Casino will work Sunday to Thursday from 11 am to 1 am and from 11 am to 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Dakota Dunes Casino will welcome guests from 10 am to 3 am from Sunday to Thursday and from 10 am to 4 am on Fridays, Saturdays, and public holidays. Northern Lights Casino will work Sunday to Thursday from 10 am to 3 am and on Fridays, Saturdays, and public holidays from 10 am to 4 am.

Casinos in Saskatchewan and COVID-19 Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the in-house casinos in Saskatchewan in 2021. The provincial government has imposed various restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, affecting casino operations.

One of the most significant impacts of COVID-19 on casinos in Saskatchewan is the obligatory closure of the facilities. The casinos have been forced to close their doors to customers for an extended period, leading to significant revenue losses. The closures also mean employees cannot work, leading to layoffs and reduced staffing levels.

For the intermittent periods when the casinos were allowed to reopen, they had to adhere to strict health and safety protocols, including mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitisation measures. These measures significantly impacted the casinos’ operations, reducing the number of customers they could accommodate at any given time.

The pandemic has also led to changes in consumer behaviour, with many people opting for online gambling instead of visiting in-house casinos. This shift has reduced foot traffic in the casinos, resulting in reduced revenue.

Provincial Government Assistance to Land-Based Casinos in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government has implemented several measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on land-based casinos in 2021. Here are some of the key initiatives:

  • Rent Relief Programme: The provincial government has introduced a rent relief programme to help businesses, including land-based casinos in Saskatchewan, that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The programme reduces rent payments for eligible companies for up to three months.
  • Wage Subsidies: The government has also introduced a wage subsidy programme to help businesses retain employees during the pandemic. This program provides up to 75% of an employee’s wages, up to a maximum of C$847 per week, for businesses that have experienced declining revenue.
  • Liquidity Assistance: The government of Saskatchewan has also announced measures to provide liquidity assistance to businesses affected by COVID-19. This includes providing financial support for businesses to access credit through financial institutions.
  • Relaxation of Regulations: The local government has relaxed some regulations governing land-based casinos in Saskatchewan to help them cope with the impact of the pandemic. For instance, the government has allowed casinos to operate under limited hours, seven days a week, to help them increase revenue.
  • Support for Charitable Gaming: The government has also supported charitable gaming organisations adversely affected by the pandemic. The support includes waiving fees for charitable gaming licenses and providing financial assistance to cover operating costs.

The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Casinos in Saskatchewan

The future of land-based casinos in Saskatchewan after COVID-19 remains uncertain. While the government has provided financial support and relaxed regulations to help casinos cope with the impact of the pandemic, the continued spread of the virus and the emergence of new variants could lead to further disruptions in the industry.

Moreover, the shift towards online gambling and the availability of other forms of entertainment may continue to affect the demand for in-house casinos. As a result, some casinos may struggle to recover from the losses incurred during the pandemic and may even be forced to close permanently.

However, as the vaccine rollout continues and restrictions ease, there is a possibility of a gradual recovery of the industry. In-house casinos may need to adapt to changing consumer preferences and invest in measures to ensure the health and safety of their customers and staff.

Overall, the future of land-based casinos in Saskatchewan will depend on various factors, including the severity and duration of the pandemic, consumer behaviour, and industry innovation.

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Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

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