SIGA excited to open casinos as part of Step 2
June 7, 2021, 10:59 am
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Step 2 of the Government of Saskatchewan’s Re-Opening Roadmap is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 20.
Step 2 will see casinos open with a 150 person maximum capacity after being closed since December 19, 2020.
Patricia Cook, Vice President of Corporate Affairs with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) says that SIGA’s casinos have closed twice since the start of the pandemic and are looking forward to reopening in June.
“This past year Covid has really hit Saskatchewan and Canada and the world really hard, casinos included. Across Canada, I think all casinos were impacted at some point. For us, we were impacted twice in the past year. In the last 14 months, we were closed for around nine months. We closed on two occasions, we closed last March and didn’t open until July 9, then we closed on December 19. It had a huge impact on our business and on our employees.
It’s been pretty devastating,” said Cook.
Cook says the nine months of being closed carried a heavy financial impact on SIGA and the casinos.
“When you’re closed for that length of time with no revenue coming in, it’s a huge impact. We don’t have any employees working but we do have a small crew that is just maintaining our assets and making sure that our systems are okay but other than that, everyone is off work right now. So it did impact us in a big way. One of the things that we were pleased with though was the federal government’s Wage Subsidy program, so we were able to access that for our employees. The Saskatchewan government has been trying to help where they can, but there’s a lot of businesses out there that require help.”
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Cook says that with Step 2 allowing casinos to open, SIGA is ready to open the doors of their casinos and begin operations once more.
“We’re ready and raring to go. We’ll operate at a 150-person capacity and we’re very thankful to be able to open our doors and we’re excited to be welcoming our employees and patrons back. We’ve been chomping at the bit to get our doors open,” Cook said.
She says the maximum capacity will not have much impact on the SIGA’s smaller casinos and will be manageable for the larger ones.
“One-fifty for some of our smaller casinos is very manageable. We have some very large properties where we can handle a capacity much larger than that and we’re really excited that this won’t be a long process. We’re anticipating that Step 3 of Saskatchewan’s Re-Open Roadmap will happen very shortly after Step 2. They’re targetting it for July 11, so once that happens all indicators are that they will essentially open a lot more opportunity for restrictions to be lifted, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Some services will also change, Cook says.
This includes table games, which will be placed on hold until Step 3 of the Re-Opening Roadmap that is anticipated to take place in July.
“On day one we won’t offer table games. We’ll be offering everything else but table games at that point. Those will be brought back on stream in July, so it’s not a long period of time. We’re just really excited for this opportunity to get open and get our doors open so people can come in and enjoy the experience.
“Our restaurant service will be open at all of our casinos, so we’re excited about that. It’s a great benefit to our patrons and our players when they come to the casino.”
Cook notes that sanitization measures will remain in place at the casinos as they reopen.
“Safety continues to be a focus for our operation and we will continue with our enhanced cleaning and safety protocols so people can be assured that they are coming into a well-ventilated, safe, secure building when they come to see our casino.”
All SIGA casinos will open on June 20 at 10 am, including the Painted Hand Casino and Bear Claw Casino.