Sarnia area casinos slotted for reopening Friday morning

Starlight Casino Point Edward. BlackburnNews.com file photo.

Sarnia area casinos will be back in business Friday morning.

Under Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan, casinos are permitted to open at 50 per cent capacity.

Gateway Casinos Director of Communications Rob Mitchell said they’re striving for an entertainment experience akin to what people saw pre-COVID.

“It’ll be very brightly lit, the television screens will all be active, all of the music will be playing and the restaurant will be open, the bar will be open, the patio will be up and running,” he said. “We want to make it as pleasant as possible but still be respectful of the public health requirements.”

Mitchell said Starlight Casino Point Edward will be able to welcome in around 1,000 patrons when its doors open at 10 a.m. The slots at Hiawatha Horse Park open at 9 a.m. with a maximum occupancy of around 300 people.

Gateway Casino Sarnia at Hiawatha Horse Park off London Line. 30 January 2020. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Colin Gowdy)

Gateway Casino Sarnia at Hiawatha Horse Park off London Line. 30 January 2020. 

Mitchell said they’re excited to be back, adding that the pandemic has been very tough on the entire Gateway organization.

“It was a difficult time, but it was not unique to us.  Our industry was one like the entertainment industry, the concert industry, and the restaurant and hospitality industry — I think we really took the brunt of it because we were forced to completely shutter. We were able to reopen most of our sites [in September], but at best, we were only open for a little over two-and-a-half weeks.”

Mitchell said patrons can come and go as they please without having to book a time to play. When casinos briefly reopened in the fall, occupancy was capped at 50 guests through a booking system.

Mitchell said table games, which haven’t been played since March 2020, will reopen on Monday at 4 p.m.  He also said the buffet at Point Edward will remain closed for the time being due to provincial restrictions.