'It makes sense': View Royal mayor says public health comes before reopening casino
VICTORIA -- The Mayor of View Royal says he understands why Elements Casino continues to remain closed and is supporting the decision by public health officials.
“(Most casino patrons are in the) high-risk group, so I think on those points alone it makes sense,” said mayor David Screech.
Some employees of Elements Casino disagree, however.
CTV News spoke anonymously to an employee inside Elements Casino, whose contract muzzles them from speaking out. They believe it is unfair that the casino can’t open when other restaurants and bars on Vancouver Island have.
In Ontario, 11 casinos are set to open their doors later this week.
“I understand the extreme caution that is taking place and when you look at what is happening in Ontario now, you have to wonder whether those were the best decision,” said Screech.
Elements Casino has been closed since mid-March and has presented a plan to the government with pandemic protocols in place for when it gets the green light to re-open.
“They have turned off every second or third machine, plexiglass dividers, very efficient measures that will be in for cleaning of the machines the minute a patron leaves them. You won’t be touching the cards at all,” said the mayor.
The BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) tells CTV News Vancouver Island in a statement that it has submitted a new plan to the provincial health officer that includes appropriate distancing, cleaning and plexiglass installations. It is now waiting to hear back from health officials.
“When we have approval to re-open gambling facilities, we will do so with appropriate measures in place to support the health and wellbeing of our players, employees and communities,” said Cecilia Ho, a media relations spokesperson for the BCLC.
Slot machines will be moved to ensure that there is a two-metre distance between players and ongoing sanitization of chips will take place.
“To minimize touch points, we are also planning that the types of table games offered will change to allow only games in which cards can be dealt face up, and that players will not be permitted to touch cards,” said Ho.
Screech said he believes a discussion will be had after Thanksgiving. However, no re-opening date for casinos has been discussed yet.
If Elements Casino re-opens in early 2021, Screech says View Royal’s budget will be on track.
“View Royal will be just fine. We may just have to defer some capital projects, bump them down the road a little bit longer,” he said.
The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation isn’t commenting on the potential reopening of casinos in B.C.