A Good Friday for Canadian Gamblers as Ontario Casinos Get Ready to Reopen

  • 11 GCGC casinos will resume their gaming business on July 16, Casino Rama on July 29
  • The announcement follows news of Ontario exceeding its COVID-19 vaccination target
  • New rules will include operating at 50% capacity, barriers at card tables, and distancing
  • GCGC’s interim CEO has thanked his team for their “resilience” over the last 17 months
  • The reopening date for Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara will be revealed “shortly”


Welcome sign outside Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario
Dice will roll once again starting Friday 16 at Ontario’s 11 GCGC casinos and July 29 at Casino Rama Resort (pictured above) following the Canadian province’s success in getting people vaccinated. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Provincial government lifting restrictions

Gamblers in the Canadian province of Ontario can pursue their in-person pastime once again as at least 12 brick-and-mortar casinos will soon reopen. 11 Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) properties have announced that they will resume operations on Friday, while Casino Rama Resort in Orillia will follow on July 29.

The Ontario Ministry of Health last week tweeted the news that the province would move to phase three of its reopening plan at 12:01am on July 16:

The provincial government’s announcement comes after COVID-19 vaccination rates for Ontario surpassed targets. It means casinos and bingo halls in Ontario can open for business, albeit with reduced gaming capacity.

The 11 GCGC venues that are geared for reopening are Casino Ajax, Casino Woodbine, Elements Casino Brantford, Elements Casino Grand River, Elements Casino Flamboro, Elements Casino Mohawk, Great Blue Heron Casino, Shorelines Casino Belleville, Shorelines Casino Peterborough, Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands, and Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs.

GCGC announced in a press release that the casino at its Pickering Casino Resort will resume in “the near future”.

Casino Rama Resort – which is co-owned by the Chippewas of Rama First Nation and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) – publicized its July 29 reopening via an Instagram post on July 9:

Gaming to resume with measures

Under the Ontario Ministry of Health’s new guidelines, casinos can open their doors to the public at 50% capacity, with two-metre distancing observed and barriers required at gaming tables. The facilities also have to provide contact tracing for patrons.

One of 11 GCGC properties primed to reopen shop on Friday, Casino Woodbine, took to Twitter on July 10 to tell patrons they were preparing to welcome them back safely:

Once reopened, the Ontario casinos operated by the Toronto-headquartered GCGC will join three venues that the company has already opened to the public in British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

excited […] to have thousands of team members return to work.”

GCGC’s interim CEO Terrance Doyle said he was “excited […] to have thousands of team members return to work.” Doyle also thanked the GCGC team for its “resilience and patience the last 17 months.”

According to its official July 12 press release, GCGC runs 26 “gaming, entertainment and hospitality facilities” in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Niagara casinos to reopen “shortly”

Niagara region newspaper The St. Catharines Standard said the July 9 announcement “opens the door to key parts of Niagara’s tourism-based economy.” It added that casinos have been “shuttered for 18 months.” While casinos and bingo halls in Saskatchewan welcomed visitors once again in June, these had only been closed for six months since December 2020.

According to Toronto-based news and travel website Narcity.com, the OLG-owned Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara have not said when they will reopen. Narcity added that a statement from the company informed that a resumption date would be revealed “shortly”.

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