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No timeline for casino reopenings, province says

Fort St. John has been pressing the province for a reopening plan
Casinos across B.C. shuttered almost one year ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Casinos and gaming operators in B.C. have filed their COVID-19 health and safety plans, but the government says there is still no firm date to allow them to reopen.

Casinos across the province were shuttered last spring at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an April 1 letter to the city, Finance Minister Selina Robinson says they will reopen once provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says they can.

"There is no firm date for gambling facilities to reopen at this time," writes Robinson.

“BCLC and the service providers have submitted heath and safety plans to reopen the BC casino industry to WorkSafeBC and the PHO. Following approval to reopen gambling facilities, they will do so with appropriate measures in place to support the health and wellbeing of players, employees and communities.”

Fort St. John city council has been pressing the province for a reopening plan. The closure of Chances casino put 125 people out of work and has cut nearly $900,000 in gaming revenues from the city’s budget.

In February, Mayor Lori Ackerman invited Premier John Horgan for a virtual tour of the casino to prove it was ready to be reopened safely. 

“There is no request for any special treatment; we wish to reiterate what we said in our previous letter, we understand that safety is the number one priority,” Mayor Lori Ackerman wrote in a Feb. 17 letter. The casino has gone above and beyond other enterprises to ensure this.”

In her response, Robinson notes people can still gamble online through the BCLC, as well as access online gambling addiction supports through the province. The province has extended registration terms with gaming operators to the end of this year, Robinson added.

“The success of BC’s vaccine rollout is encouraging and there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must not let our guard down,” Robinson wrote. “BCLC will continue to be guided by the advice of the PHO and more information about the reopening of gambling facilities will be shared when it is available.”

Read the minister's letter to the city in full below:

Minister of Finance re: Reopening of BC Casinos - City of Fort St. John by AlaskaHighwayNews on Scribd

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