The atmosphere at Casino Rama is happily buoyant with staff members expressing joy at being able to return to work. The owner of the property, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment stated that despite past difficulties, the Ontario venue’s employees have returned with renewed vigour following the reopening of the casino on Monday, January 31, 2022.
The closure of the property on January 5, 2022, was mandated by the provincial government, due to health and safety concerns, as it moved the territory into a modified Step Two of the Business reopening plan. At the time, indoor entertainment venues like casinos were instructed to shut down until at least January 25, 2022. This relatively minor lockdown was initiated in response to the spread of a new Coronavirus variant.
The Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, Robert Mitchell, advised that Casino Rama’s guests and employees are thrilled that the venue is open again. He added that, even in the wake of a recent snowstorm, morale at the casino is high.
Mitchell further stated that the company is also plotting the reopening of the property’s entertainment centre.
The casino’s restaurants and the centre bar have also resumed trade and visitors can once again enjoy a drink on the gaming floor. The company explained that over 550 employees have since returned to work, but that unfortunately, another 300 are still sitting idle.
Greg Weaver, Unifor’s Local 1090 Chairperson and Second Vice President, related how excited workers are to be back at their posts, but that uncertainty about the future still lingers strongly across the board, with more possible shutdowns looming. Weaver added that before the first major lockdown, the union was 1170 members strong, but this figure has now reduced to 853.
Weaver also shared that many staff are fatigued from the whirlwind of events of the last two years and that the union is in negotiations with the casino to financially assist its staff members with measures such as allowing workers to keep their vacation pay.
Over its 17 month closure that began in March 2020, the company made efforts to rearrange its gaming floor, in preparation for reopening and to satisfy provincial health guidelines. The venue explained that close to 400 slot machines and 20 table games have been removed to free up space to meet physical distancing guidelines.
Live Shows on the Back Burner
In December 2021, the casino had announced that, in line with governmental mandates and protocols, certain live shows would be postponed. The casino offered point-of-purchase refunds to anyone who had tickets for January and February events, as well as advising customers that they are free to hold on to their tickets for the as-yet-unannounced rescheduled dates.