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City pushes province for casino reopening plan

The City of Fort St. John is urging the province to develop plans and timetables for casinos to reopen. Casinos have been closed since March 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Sept.
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At Chances Fort St. John, gambling revenues totalled $16.6 million in 2017-18.

The City of Fort St. John is urging the province to develop plans and timetables for casinos to reopen.

Casinos have been closed since March 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Sept. 3 letter to Premier John Horgan, Mayor Lori Ackerman says the prolonged closure is adding pressure on local families.

“Our casino operations usually employs 107 people who are still unemployed with no indication of when they might have a reliable paycheque,” Ackerman wrote. “We are seeing some very difficult decisions being made causing further stress within these families.”

The casino closure has also cut city revenues — down from $895,023 in 2018-19 to $275,628 this year, Ackerman noted.

The letter was written and approved by council before new public health orders were made this week that have again shuttered nightclubs and banquet halls.

However, Ackerman said it was hard to understand how they had been allowed to operate with safety plans while the “highly-regulated gaming industry” could not.

“Precedent setting decisions have been made in local governments to manage the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis that is costing us on a daily basis,” Ackerman wrote.

She added: “The safety of casino workers and patrons is paramount. With this in mind, we encourage the Province to use the work safe guidelines as everyone else is to develop a safe reopening plan for casinos with a clearly laid out timeline.”

Read the letter to Horgan below:

City of Fort St. John letter to Premier John Horgan re: Casino Reopenings, Sept. 3, 2020. by AlaskaHighwayNews on Scribd

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.