Of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the casino industry is most certainly one of them. As cities and provinces across Canada implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the virus, retail stores and restaurants closed their doors to the public in order to comply with the public health advice of government officials.
One of the main reasons for the slowdown in trade in the casino industry is related to the overall slowdown in both domestic and international tourism. The tourism industry has been incredibly hard hit by the pandemic, with international travel all but grinding to a halt. While domestic tourism has eased the situation somewhat, this pales in comparison to the level of activity we would usually be seeing at this time of the year. Some tourism industry reports have indicated a fall in revenue of over 60% in comparison to last year.
Casino towns, in particular, have experienced a sharp drop in revenue, given the difficulties of implementing social distancing measures on the casino floor. A recent industry report has indicated that since the beginning of the lockdown in March, the casino and gaming industry has been losing CA$22,828,500 every day.
For casino owners eyeing up potential re-opening dates, the news from the provinces that they will be taking a slow and controlled approach comes as more bad news. The provincial health officer for British Columbia, for example, has suggested that casinos will be last on the list for re-opening, although in other provinces such as Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Quebec, casinos have already partially re-opened.
In response, the Canadian government has allocated funds to various tourism bodies to implement campaigns to promote domestic tourism. However, given the massive drop in earnings overall, it looks like too little too late. With the border between the US and Canada still officially closed for all but essential travel, the future looks increasingly uncertain.
Despite all this uncertainty, casinos throughout the provinces have begun to devise plans for re-opening. To comply with the public health advice, however, the measures put in place will mean that the experience of going to a casino will look quite different from what we are used to.
Some of these measures include reconfiguring the casino floor to allow fewer players at any one time, the installation of Plexiglas and other barriers between machines, card games to be handled only by the dealer, and regular sanitization. For many would-be casino goers, however, these measures might be enough to put them off visiting entirely, particularly when online casinos are so readily available.
Despite the severe losses experienced by land-based casinos, online casinos have reported record-breaking growth in recent months. Portals such as OnlineCasinoListings.com are just one of the many routes for Canadian players to discover online casinos to fulfill their gambling requirements.
Indeed, with lockdown restrictions preventing individuals from gaming in person, many are switching to an online format. What the long term impact of this will be on the casino industry, however, remains to be seen.
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