GCG Leads Charge in Canada Casino Closures

Kudos to GCG for shutting down all Canadian casinos ahead of mandates.

Kudos to GCG for Shutting Down All Canadian Casinos Ahead of MandatesHow many of you readers out there would agree that the casino industry is a greedy one? They provide an entertainment service, true, but their service draws customers based on the idea that they can win money. And yes, some can win, but many more will lose. That’s just how gambling it works. Poker rooms collect money from rake. Betting exchanges collect commission. Sportsbooks constantly slide the odds scale into their favor.

No doubt there are a lot of people that consider gambling industry CEOs to be rich scoundrels who would do anything to make yet another buck. But at a time like this, when the world is under ghost-like attack from an invisible virus that threatens our existence as we know it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that one major casino corporation thought first and foremost about its staff and customers, ahead of its bottom line.

GCG Voluntarily Closes All Canadian Casinos Ahead of Mandates

Great Canadian Gaming (GCG) is the owner and/or operator of 25 major casino gambling and hospitality properties across the nation. The company runs 13 casinos in Ontario, 10 in British Columbia, 2 in Nova Scotia and 1 in New Brunswick. They include some of Canada’s largest casinos; like River Rock Casino, Hard Rock Vancouver and Casino Woodbine, just to name a few.

On March 15, 2020, GCG announced that it would temporarily suspend operations at all of its gambling and hospitality properties. This was the same day that officials in B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskathewan made the difficult decision to order casino closures, but one day ahead of New Brunswick’s order. Of worthy note, while most officials said that all casinos must cease operation by end of day on March 16, GCG moved ahead with the shut down as quickly as possibly, ceasing all operations that same day.

The following message appeared on the GCGaming website explaining the closures:

In conjunction with our crown corporation partners in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Great Canadian Casino Facilities have temporarily suspended all operations as of Sunday, March 15, at 11:59pm.

While there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported in Great Canadian Casino Facilities, this measure has been deemed to be in the best interest of the public’s health and the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

We appreciate your understanding during this unprecedented situation.

A special COVID-19 press release was issued the following day in which the company confirmed its commitment “to providing a safe environment for all its guests and staff,” followed by a promise of future updates as information becomes available.

Rod Baker, Chief Executive at GCG, had this to say:

“On behalf of our 10,000 team members across the country, and the millions of guests we have the privilege of hosting and entertaining each year, we know we have a role to play in the fight to slow down the spread of COVID-19. We are taking this unprecedented and proactive step along with the countless other organizations across the country that are taking similar action to collectively contain the spread of COVID-19.”

The company’s urgency in cooperating with provincial gaming regulators and health officials is commendable, especially considering the market in which it operates. Let’s not forget that casinos in some provinces were allowed to remain open up to 48 hours beyond this point. City councils in Alberta and Manitoba pleaded with their government and regulatory agencies to have those casino properties shut down.

Alberta finally issued a closure order on Tuesday, March 17, despite the City of Calgary having issued a state of emergency on Sunday that should have closed down the city’s gambling properties immediately. A similar situation took place in Manitoba, where casino closures were not executed until Wednesday, March 18.

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