COVID-19 Order Closes Great Canadian Halifax Casino, Just Two Venues Open

Posted on: April 24, 2021, 11:53h. 

Last updated on: April 25, 2021, 02:00h.

Great Canadian Gaming Corp. on Friday announced that the company has shut down its casino in the Maritimes province capital. The move came after Nova Scotia officials ordering the COVID-19 closure of certain businesses in the Halifax area,

Great Canadian Casino Closed
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. announced Friday that it shut down its Casino Nova Scotia – Halifax (shown above) Thursday night in accordance with an order from Nova Scotia officials. The move means only two of the gaming company’s 25 Canadian properties are currently open. (Image: Ben MacLeod/Wikimedia Commons)

The closure of Casino Nova Scotia – Halifax took place at 11:59 pm Atlantic time Thursday. It comes as COVID cases have increased to levels the province of about 1 million residents had not seen since a year ago.

On Saturday, Nova Scotia officials reported 52 new cases and 201 active coronavirus cases. The vast majority, 44 and 153 new and active cases respectively, are in the province’s central region, where Halifax is located.

Provincial authorities urged residents in the region to travel only for necessary reasons. Those would include going to school, work, health care appointments, and legal appointments.

Travel for shopping, social events, family visits, practices, or rehearsals are not considered necessary,” the Nova Scotia statement read.

Officials said the order will stay in place until at least May 20.

With the Halifax casino announcement, only two of Great Canadian’s 25 casinos and other gaming properties remain open.

Only Casino New Brunswick and Casino Nova Scotia – Sydney remain open. Sydney is located in a different region of Nova Scotia and not subject to Thursday’s order. Both casinos currently operate under restrictions.

That includes all of the company’s operations in Ontario and British Columbia

Woodbine CEO Frustrated

Great Canadian, whose shareholders agreed to a takeover by Apollo Global Management late last year, isn’t the only gaming company that’s been affected by Canadian provincial government actions.

This past week, Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Jim Lawson lashed out at Ontario officials in the Toronto Sun. He complained about what he considers inconsistent policy regarding sporting events. Woodbine operates thoroughbred and harness racing in the county’s largest province.

Currently, trainers and other horsemen can work with horses, but they cannot race at either of the company’s facilities. Meanwhile, just miles away from Woodbine’s two Toronto-area tracks, the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs are able to play games indoors.

Lawson told the newspaper he no longer wants to give people hope that racing will resume in the near future.

“I’ve had good discussions, but nothing seems to be happening,” said Lawson, referring to talks he’s had with Toronto and Ontario officials. “I’m banging my head against the wall. I don’t even know where to turn anymore. It’s not like I’m not having the right discussions with the right people. But someone has to spend an hour – whatever the time is – to go through what we’re doing.”

Great Canadian Eager for Vaccine Rollout

The major issue for Canada in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic right now is its lack of access to vaccines. As reported on NPR’s All Things Considered, the country lacks the ability to produce vaccines. Typically, Canada relies on the United States to produce and export the pharmaceuticals the country’s residents need.

The difference between the two countries is stark.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 26.9 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated and 40.9 percent have received at least one dose. In Canada, the nation’s Public Health Agency reports 24.2 percent of residents there have received at least one dose. Less than 2.4 percent of Canadians have received two.

In a statement, Great Canadian Interim CEO Terrance Doyle said as the vaccination program grows, the company looks forward to seeing restrictions ease.

“This has been a particularly difficult period for our thousands of team members across the country. But we are fully equipped and prepared to reopen in a safe and sustainable manner as conditions improve in our communities,” Doyle said.