News

Jul 2020

New Normal: Casinos betting on temperature checks, chip cleaners

TORONTO -- Canadian gamblers are trading in cards and chips for temperature checks, hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfecting wipes.

As casinos across the country open, the gaming floor looks decidedly different. For the most part, table games are closed and there are fewer slot machines to choose. Reminders about physical distancing are scattered about on floors, walls, doors and around elevators.

Many amenities are closed. Forget valet service, buffets, live shows, spas and nightclubs. Casinos are built for escapism, but there is no escaping COVID-19.

Casinos are applying the same kind of cleaning discipline once reserved for washrooms to their entire site, using long-lasting antimicrobial sprays to disinfect surfaces, wiping down slot machines between each use, and providing disinfectant wipes and sanitizer throughout the gaming floor.

Many casinos are no longer open 24 hours, instead closing down for a few hours each morning to clean.

Plastic barriers are common at slots, gaming tables and food and beverage counters, and a number of casinos are employing technology to minimize the need for lines, including live count capacity monitors and apps that tell casino visitors when it’s their time to enter.

Those who enjoy casinos want to get back to the machines and tables after three or four months of dark gaming floors, says Paul Burns, CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. But they understand the experience is going to be different, just like every other facet of public life.

“Where we’ve had reopenings, demand has been good. Customers do want to come back but they also want to know it’s safe. We have to get this right for customers.”

WHERE CASINOS ARE REOPENING

Alberta was the first province to reopen its casinos. It isn’t requiring masks, though strongly recommends them, and also hasn’t set capacity restrictions beyond requiring a two-metre distance.

Casinos in all the Atlantic provinces are allowed to reopen (except Newfoundland and Labrador, where they have been illegal for many years.) But some operators in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have yet to reopen.

Saskatchewan reopened its casinos last week and beginning Friday, casinos are permitted to reopen in the parts of Ontario that are entering Stage 3.

Quebec’s casinos will reopen over the next few weeks.

Manitoba and British Columbia have not reopened casinos. Health authorities in B.C. have included casinos in its Phase 4 plan, along with conventions, live professional sports, concerts and international tourism. That phase requires a vaccine, broad community immunity or successful treatments.

But casino operators are lobbying the provincial government to allow them to open their doors with approved health and safety plans.

It’s a safe bet casinos are big business.

There were 114 casinos in Canada when pandemic measures closed every one of them in a 72-hour period in March. According to the Canadian Gaming Association, the gaming industry accounts for more than 182,000 jobs in this country, along with revenues to governments and charities of $9.2 billion and spending on goods and services of about $14.6 billion.

‘GNAWING IN MY STOMACH’

But how many gamblers are willing to wager on a casino outing?

Marcia Coward-Wilson used to visit a Vancouver Island casino at least once a week, sometimes more. Vacations with her partner were planned around trips to casinos and it wasn’t uncommon for the couple to make a day’s road trip to visit all six casinos on the island in one day.

But due to the pandemic, Coward-Wilson, 66, says she won’t see the inside of a casino for a very long time.

“I certainly will not be going back when they open,” she said from her home in Merville, B.C.

Coward-Wilson has an auto-immune disease and worries about crowds, recirculated air and all the touched surfaces inside a casino.

“And COVID is still an unknown. Every day, you hear something new about it.”

Coward-Wilson says she won’t risk being able to see her three-year-old granddaughter to visit a casino. And she doesn’t think it would be that much fun anyway, what will all the worrying about getting too close to people and what she’s touched.

“I get a gnawing in my stomach that tells me I don’t want to go near a casino anytime soon.”

But many have shown their eagerness to get back to the casino floor.

News reports documented a long line of people outside Casino Regina when the doors were opened for the first time in three months on July 9.

In just three hours, the casino reached its maximum capacity of 250.

Jason Agecoutay in Yorkton, Sask. says he and his spouse were among those at the casino a few days later. He said there were “some great protocols in place” and he will return soon, though he hopes to see more staff wiping down slots next time.

The casino’s visitors have to undergo a health screening at the door, but masks are optional. The casino has spaced out its slot machines and reduced its hours of operation to allow for more cleaning.

“Maybe the biggest thing that impressed me was that they had machines turned off so you are forced to social distance while playing,” he told CTVNews.ca by email. “Unlike other casinos where they just ask you to social distance and leave all the machines running, you can clearly see the focus is on patron protection and not on making money.”

SAFETY MEASURES

Many casinos have detailed their reopening plans or operating protocols on their websites.

The yet-to-be-reopened South Beach Casino in Scanterbury, Man. says it will have slot attendants offering disinfecting wipes to players, disinfecting machines at least once every two hours, and completing a log of each machine’s sanitization schedule.

Elevator capacity is capped at four people and buttons will be sanitized at least once an hour.

Casino de Montreal, which is reopening Aug. 3, will open six sections at a maximum of 250 people each. Guests are asked to book their visit through a new RSVP system to get “priority access.”

Masks are mandatory, and visitors must sanitize their hands at the entrance and exit and when arriving and leaving tables. Casino-goers will be supplied with a stylus pen so they can avoid touching devices.

Slots are either spaced out or divided with plastic barriers, machines are only activated by an attendant if they’ve been disinfected and physical distancing is in place.

The casino will not operate valet service or coat check and even urinals are closed due to physical distancing.

Some table games have been modified so that only dealers handle chips and those that require players to touch cards, such as poker, will be closed. Players will be separated from each other and from the dealer by a plastic screen.

Quebec casinos will be the first to offer table games in Canada under COVID-19 restrictions. In some cases, health authorities have prohibited them, but in others, casino operators have determined they can’t make a go of running them under physical distancing measures when only two or three players can sit at a table, says Burns at the Canadian Gaming Association.

Other operators are installing barriers on the tables and will open them down the road.

NOT ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE IN ONTARIO

Many of Ontario’s casinos can reopen Friday, when much of the province enters Stage 3 of reopening. That excludes the Golden Horseshoe and Windsor-Essex, which will remain in Stage 2.

Under provincial guidelines, Ontario’s casinos cannot operate table games or buffets, must require face masks for customers, and must submit a reopening plan to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates casinos.

In the new phase, Ontario is increasing its indoor capacity limit to 50 people, and while Burns says he understands where health authorities are coming from, it’s not an economically feasible number for casinos.

“At 50 people, there is not a casino that will reopen.”

Gateway Casinos, which operates 12 sites across Ontario, has announced it won’t open any of its casinos Friday and has no timeline for doing so. Great Canadian Gaming Corporation’s website does not include any reopening information for any of its 13 sites in Ontario.

Burns says the industry is continuing to work with the province and the regulator to demonstrate “our operators are prepared to bring in limits that are responsible and safe.”

He says the province’s casinos have developed “very detailed and robust plans” to reopen that are being reviewed by public health experts before submission to the province. Burns points out that casinos already have surveillance systems that will make it easy to monitor the movement of people and to deal with people who are congregating.

Many of Ontario’s casino operators have sites in other jurisdictions where they have been allowed to open in compliance with public health guidelines. That direct experience, along with studying what is being done around the world, will only help the reopening process in Canada’s most populous province, says Burns.

But there are many moving parts, including new training of staff, getting buildings ready with signs and a newly spaced out gaming floor, figuring out how to deliver various games, and preparing adjacent amenities to reopen, including restaurants, hotels and salons.

“There is a great deal of experience and dedication going into this process,” he told CTV News from Toronto. “No one is going to rush to reopen.”

And certainly no one wants to reopen, only to close again for an outbreak.

THE ALBERTA EXPERIENCE

The five Alberta casinos owned by Century Casinos reopened June 13 and are operating at roughly 40 per cent of pre-COVID-19 capacity, said Geoff Smith, senior vice-president of operations.

With some “well-designed Plexiglass barriers” in place, about 50 per cent of the slot machines are open. In some cases, slots have been spread out to allow two-metre separation, in other cases, some have simply been turned off.

Employees are wearing masks at all Century casinos and they are required for visitors at three sites, Smith told CTVNews.ca from Edmonton. He says masks are “highly encouraged” at the other two sites and required when two metres of distance isn’t possible.

“I’d say, all together at all our casinos a high percentage are wearing them – north of 80 per cent.”

Casino visitors go through a wellness check and have their temperatures taken if there is any reason for concern, says Smith. Employees’ temperatures are taken every day before they enter the premises. Century implemented an ambassador job for management-level employees whose sole responsibility is to ensure COVID-19 measures are followed.

Smith says the “optics of the experience” are crucial, so that customers feel safe. A large portion of the casino’s normal clientele are 55-plus and some of that crowd hasn’t returned, he says. But at times, especially just after reopening, there were some lines on the weekends.

Live entertainment isn’t happening and Century Casinos are shifting their large promotional draws online beginning in August, says Smith. But restaurants are open and so is a comedy club at Century Casino Edmonton, with an occupancy limit of 100, and horse-racing tracks with up to 200 spectators.

“I think we can still provide the fun and entertainment people want but in a secure, responsible way. The close proximity and mingling of crowds has stopped, and who knows for how long.”

There is no indication from the province when table games will be permitted, but when poker and blackjack and the like is allowed again, River Cree Resort and Casino in Enoch, Alta. will be ready, says marketing director Jayme Behm.

The casino has already sourced specially-designed dividers to separate players from each other and from the dealer and has bought a chip sanitizer that looks like a big washing machine, says Behm. Each time trays of chips come to the cash cage, they will get a spin through the sanitizer.

River Cree, which is owned and operated by the Cree Nation just outside Edmonton, used its time during shutdown to install plastic barriers between each of its 1,350 slot machines, allowing each one to stay in operation.

Masks are not mandated at River Cree, except for employees who work in close quarters and for servers and bartenders. And guests are not undergoing health screenings to enter.

But the casino is providing complimentary masks, hand sanitizers and wipes (the latter in bright yellow canisters), and has a designated “extreme clean team” circulating the floor to wipe down surfaces. There is a hotline number patrons can call if anything needs attention or to report physical distancing violations or someone possibly displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

The casino also has real-time capacity scanners at every entrance, which indicate how many guests are in each of two casinos (a smaller one allows smoking). That allows managers to make “proactive and informed decisions” about capping capacity when it seems physical distancing can’t be maintained, says Behm.

The casino is exploring cashless and other no-touch technology and has already replaced the tradition of “hand pays” for slots jackpots, where winners had bills counted into their hands at the machine, with a credit slip paid out at the cash cage.

Head counts and traffic are definitely down over last year, says Behm, but that’s not surprising given live entertainment and big giveaways of jackpots and cars that bring crowds are all on ice for now.

The fear of the virus is certainly a factor, too.

“Some people are comfortable with going out and some people are not, whether that’s the grocery store, the casino or their uncle’s house. Some are not willing to come back yet.”

THIS VIRUS LOVES THE INDOORS

Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says he’s not generally a casino goer, but if he was, he wouldn’t be going right now.

“This virus loves indoor clustering of people and casinos are set up to gather people around slots and gaming tables,” he said.

Standing around with strangers, whether that’s in lines, around slots and tables or in bars or restaurants, poses a danger. The risk is amplified the closer people are and the longer they stay close.

“The second wave will be triggered by a super-spreading event and that’s going to be some sort of indoor mass gathering, whether that’s a church, a bar, a casino or a concert.”

He says Canada continues to ride a delicate balance between opening its economy and letting people live their lives, while controlling virus numbers.

“So that means looking at what’s really necessary and what’s a luxury,” he said. Schools, stores and factories could be seen as necessities, while things like bars, casinos and movie theatres are luxuries.

He acknowledges casinos in particular are big employers and even bigger generators of revenue for governments, but the risk is evident, he said.

It’s possible to minimize the threat, but it does take effort, time and resources, said Deonandan. The key is to keep the number of people inside a casino small and spread out. And he says masks should be mandatory for everyone at all times.

“That’s just not something you can get around.”

Employees should be doubly protected – with masks to handle outward transmission and visors to protect against inward transmission.

As for temperature checks, the professor thinks they may catch a few carriers of the virus, but fevers can easily be suppressed with over-the-counter medications and those who are infected but are asymptomatic or haven’t developed symptoms yet won’t be flagged by a thermometer.

It’s more important, he says, that casinos offer plenty of hand washing and sanitizing stations, along with strong messaging about hygiene, physical distancing, and not touching the face. And while the risk of surface transmission is believed to be low, it’s still important to properly and frequently disinfect the things that people touch.

Casinos also must invest in maintaining and upgrading air filtration systems and to ensure air is always moving, says Deonandan.

Surveillance and enforcement, something casinos are already adept at, are going to be critical to maintain physical distancing, says the professor. It will change the casino experience for many and maybe improve it for some.

“It’s really about what motivates someone to be in a casino. Are you there to socialize or to sit by yourself and gamble at a slot machine?” he said. In some cases, pandemic measures may boost the comfort level. Instead of jockeying for a spot at a craps table or sitting elbow-to-elbow playing poker, Deonandan says barriers to keep people apart could be made to feel like individual, spacious booths.

“Casinos have the resources and the motivation to get it right. They are motivated to get people in and keep them in, so people have to feel safe.”

SOUTH OF THE BORDER

The reality of the coronavirus has even hit home in Sin City.

Las Vegas, which opened its famed casino strip on June 4 to headlines about larger-than-expected crowds ignoring physical distancing and hardly a mask in sight, has now seen the majority of its operators institute mandatory temperature checks and masks for guests and employees.

Dice are splashed with sanitizer after every throw and dealers stand behind plastic shields. There are also plastic barriers between every two seats at bars.

But New Jersey took it a step further, deciding to ban alcohol (or drinks of any kind), eating and smoking in its nine casinos in Atlantic City, while limiting capacity to 25 per cent.

Many casinos in New York state are going the same route. Gamblers can only get water and non-alcoholic drinks at Oneida Nations Enterprises’ three casinos and must drink them from a straw with their masks in place. It is also among a number of the state’s casinos limiting entry to those who live within 160 kilometres. And if you live in 19 U.S. states that have elevated levels of COVID-19, you’ll be turned away.

The entry procedure, included in the casinos’ 25-page reopening plan, includes swiping ID to prove you’re not from a restricted state, lowering a face covering for three seconds to be visually checked, putting the mask back, and grabbing hand sanitizer.

Kewadin Casino in Michigan is recommending that those with “compromised immunity or vulnerabilities not visit,” and is prohibiting any congregating around slots. Mystic Lake casino in Prior Lake, Minn. is taking temperatures, limiting on-site smoking and providing an on-site health clinic for staff.

An anti-smoking group in the United States says about 170 casinos have gone smoke-free in the wake of COVID-19.

A TOUCHLESS CASINO

Some of the changes COVID-19 has wrought could be here to stay, says Burns at the CGA, but that likely depends on how long the virus poses a threat. What is for sure is that the pandemic is forcing innovation in a way few things could.

Long a bastion of cash, this pandemic, and the resulting reluctance or downright fear of handing bills, could push the casino industry to embrace digital payment options. Few casinos allow for contactless or mobile payments and many regulators don’t allow it. But the feeling is that the coronavirus will accelerate the conversation.

The CGA has been working on plans for going cashless for more than a year, says Burns. It recently released a technical proposal for the adoption of debit or cards or digital apps, such as Apply Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal and is now collecting industry feedback.

“We started looking into it last year but the pandemic has had a way of escalating timelines,” he said. “It’s not going to happen immediately, but these tools will find their way to the gaming floors in the coming months.”

The American Gaming Association in June found that 57 per cent of people who visited a casino in the past year said the option to use digital payments on the casino floor is important to them and 59 per cent said they are less likely to use cash because of COVID-19.

The trade group said alternatives should be available to anyone uneasy about using cash. And it said that limit setting within digital platforms – both in terms of dollars and time spent playing – could encourage people to gamble responsibly.

And innovation could ultimately lead to a fully touchless slot experience. Las Vegas-based Scientific Games has developed a mobile wallet and app that connects by Bluetooth to a slot machine. The player operates the machine from their phone and if they win, the money can go right back to their bank account or be turned into casino credits.

The company has also created a platform that notifies floor staff when a player leaves a machine so that it can be sanitized and tells a player through an app how recently a device was cleaned. When a player connects, the machines on either side become inoperable to maintain physical distancing.TORONTO -- Canadian gamblers are trading in cards and chips for temperature checks, hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfecting wipes.

As casinos across the country open, the gaming floor looks decidedly different. For the most part, table games are closed and there are fewer slot machines to choose. Reminders about physical distancing are scattered about on floors, walls, doors and around elevators.

Many amenities are closed. Forget valet service, buffets, live shows, spas and nightclubs. Casinos are built for escapism, but there is no escaping COVID-19.

Casinos are applying the same kind of cleaning discipline once reserved for washrooms to their entire site, using long-lasting antimicrobial sprays to disinfect surfaces, wiping down slot machines between each use, and providing disinfectant wipes and sanitizer throughout the gaming floor.

Many casinos are no longer open 24 hours, instead closing down for a few hours each morning to clean.

Plastic barriers are common at slots, gaming tables and food and beverage counters, and a number of casinos are employing technology to minimize the need for lines, including live count capacity monitors and apps that tell casino visitors when it’s their time to enter.

Those who enjoy casinos want to get back to the machines and tables after three or four months of dark gaming floors, says Paul Burns, CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. But they understand the experience is going to be different, just like every other facet of public life.

“Where we’ve had reopenings, demand has been good. Customers do want to come back but they also want to know it’s safe. We have to get this right for customers.”

WHERE CASINOS ARE REOPENING

Alberta was the first province to reopen its casinos. It isn’t requiring masks, though strongly recommends them, and also hasn’t set capacity restrictions beyond requiring a two-metre distance.

Casinos in all the Atlantic provinces are allowed to reopen (except Newfoundland and Labrador, where they have been illegal for many years.) But some operators in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have yet to reopen.

Saskatchewan reopened its casinos last week and beginning Friday, casinos are permitted to reopen in the parts of Ontario that are entering Stage 3.

Quebec’s casinos will reopen over the next few weeks.

Manitoba and British Columbia have not reopened casinos. Health authorities in B.C. have included casinos in its Phase 4 plan, along with conventions, live professional sports, concerts and international tourism. That phase requires a vaccine, broad community immunity or successful treatments.

But casino operators are lobbying the provincial government to allow them to open their doors with approved health and safety plans.

It’s a safe bet casinos are big business.

There were 114 casinos in Canada when pandemic measures closed every one of them in a 72-hour period in March. According to the Canadian Gaming Association, the gaming industry accounts for more than 182,000 jobs in this country, along with revenues to governments and charities of $9.2 billion and spending on goods and services of about $14.6 billion.

‘GNAWING IN MY STOMACH’

But how many gamblers are willing to wager on a casino outing?

Marcia Coward-Wilson used to visit a Vancouver Island casino at least once a week, sometimes more. Vacations with her partner were planned around trips to casinos and it wasn’t uncommon for the couple to make a day’s road trip to visit all six casinos on the island in one day.

But due to the pandemic, Coward-Wilson, 66, says she won’t see the inside of a casino for a very long time.

“I certainly will not be going back when they open,” she said from her home in Merville, B.C.

Coward-Wilson has an auto-immune disease and worries about crowds, recirculated air and all the touched surfaces inside a casino.

“And COVID is still an unknown. Every day, you hear something new about it.”

Coward-Wilson says she won’t risk being able to see her three-year-old granddaughter to visit a casino. And she doesn’t think it would be that much fun anyway, what will all the worrying about getting too close to people and what she’s touched.

“I get a gnawing in my stomach that tells me I don’t want to go near a casino anytime soon.”

But many have shown their eagerness to get back to the casino floor.

News reports documented a long line of people outside Casino Regina when the doors were opened for the first time in three months on July 9.

In just three hours, the casino reached its maximum capacity of 250.

Jason Agecoutay in Yorkton, Sask. says he and his spouse were among those at the casino a few days later. He said there were “some great protocols in place” and he will return soon, though he hopes to see more staff wiping down slots next time.

The casino’s visitors have to undergo a health screening at the door, but masks are optional. The casino has spaced out its slot machines and reduced its hours of operation to allow for more cleaning.

“Maybe the biggest thing that impressed me was that they had machines turned off so you are forced to social distance while playing,” he told CTVNews.ca by email. “Unlike other casinos where they just ask you to social distance and leave all the machines running, you can clearly see the focus is on patron protection and not on making money.”

SAFETY MEASURES

Many casinos have detailed their reopening plans or operating protocols on their websites.

The yet-to-be-reopened South Beach Casino in Scanterbury, Man. says it will have slot attendants offering disinfecting wipes to players, disinfecting machines at least once every two hours, and completing a log of each machine’s sanitization schedule.

Elevator capacity is capped at four people and buttons will be sanitized at least once an hour.

Casino de Montreal, which is reopening Aug. 3, will open six sections at a maximum of 250 people each. Guests are asked to book their visit through a new RSVP system to get “priority access.”

Masks are mandatory, and visitors must sanitize their hands at the entrance and exit and when arriving and leaving tables. Casino-goers will be supplied with a stylus pen so they can avoid touching devices.

Slots are either spaced out or divided with plastic barriers, machines are only activated by an attendant if they’ve been disinfected and physical distancing is in place.

The casino will not operate valet service or coat check and even urinals are closed due to physical distancing.

Some table games have been modified so that only dealers handle chips and those that require players to touch cards, such as poker, will be closed. Players will be separated from each other and from the dealer by a plastic screen.

Quebec casinos will be the first to offer table games in Canada under COVID-19 restrictions. In some cases, health authorities have prohibited them, but in others, casino operators have determined they can’t make a go of running them under physical distancing measures when only two or three players can sit at a table, says Burns at the Canadian Gaming Association.

Other operators are installing barriers on the tables and will open them down the road.

NOT ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE IN ONTARIO

Many of Ontario’s casinos can reopen Friday, when much of the province enters Stage 3 of reopening. That excludes the Golden Horseshoe and Windsor-Essex, which will remain in Stage 2.

Under provincial guidelines, Ontario’s casinos cannot operate table games or buffets, must require face masks for customers, and must submit a reopening plan to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates casinos.

In the new phase, Ontario is increasing its indoor capacity limit to 50 people, and while Burns says he understands where health authorities are coming from, it’s not an economically feasible number for casinos.

“At 50 people, there is not a casino that will reopen.”

Gateway Casinos, which operates 12 sites across Ontario, has announced it won’t open any of its casinos Friday and has no timeline for doing so. Great Canadian Gaming Corporation’s website does not include any reopening information for any of its 13 sites in Ontario.

Burns says the industry is continuing to work with the province and the regulator to demonstrate “our operators are prepared to bring in limits that are responsible and safe.”

He says the province’s casinos have developed “very detailed and robust plans” to reopen that are being reviewed by public health experts before submission to the province. Burns points out that casinos already have surveillance systems that will make it easy to monitor the movement of people and to deal with people who are congregating.

Many of Ontario’s casino operators have sites in other jurisdictions where they have been allowed to open in compliance with public health guidelines. That direct experience, along with studying what is being done around the world, will only help the reopening process in Canada’s most populous province, says Burns.

But there are many moving parts, including new training of staff, getting buildings ready with signs and a newly spaced out gaming floor, figuring out how to deliver various games, and preparing adjacent amenities to reopen, including restaurants, hotels and salons.

“There is a great deal of experience and dedication going into this process,” he told CTV News from Toronto. “No one is going to rush to reopen.”

And certainly no one wants to reopen, only to close again for an outbreak.

THE ALBERTA EXPERIENCE

The five Alberta casinos owned by Century Casinos reopened June 13 and are operating at roughly 40 per cent of pre-COVID-19 capacity, said Geoff Smith, senior vice-president of operations.

With some “well-designed Plexiglass barriers” in place, about 50 per cent of the slot machines are open. In some cases, slots have been spread out to allow two-metre separation, in other cases, some have simply been turned off.

Employees are wearing masks at all Century casinos and they are required for visitors at three sites, Smith told CTVNews.ca from Edmonton. He says masks are “highly encouraged” at the other two sites and required when two metres of distance isn’t possible.

“I’d say, all together at all our casinos a high percentage are wearing them – north of 80 per cent.”

Casino visitors go through a wellness check and have their temperatures taken if there is any reason for concern, says Smith. Employees’ temperatures are taken every day before they enter the premises. Century implemented an ambassador job for management-level employees whose sole responsibility is to ensure COVID-19 measures are followed.

Smith says the “optics of the experience” are crucial, so that customers feel safe. A large portion of the casino’s normal clientele are 55-plus and some of that crowd hasn’t returned, he says. But at times, especially just after reopening, there were some lines on the weekends.

Live entertainment isn’t happening and Century Casinos are shifting their large promotional draws online beginning in August, says Smith. But restaurants are open and so is a comedy club at Century Casino Edmonton, with an occupancy limit of 100, and horse-racing tracks with up to 200 spectators.

“I think we can still provide the fun and entertainment people want but in a secure, responsible way. The close proximity and mingling of crowds has stopped, and who knows for how long.”

There is no indication from the province when table games will be permitted, but when poker and blackjack and the like is allowed again, River Cree Resort and Casino in Enoch, Alta. will be ready, says marketing director Jayme Behm.

The casino has already sourced specially-designed dividers to separate players from each other and from the dealer and has bought a chip sanitizer that looks like a big washing machine, says Behm. Each time trays of chips come to the cash cage, they will get a spin through the sanitizer.

River Cree, which is owned and operated by the Cree Nation just outside Edmonton, used its time during shutdown to install plastic barriers between each of its 1,350 slot machines, allowing each one to stay in operation.

Masks are not mandated at River Cree, except for employees who work in close quarters and for servers and bartenders. And guests are not undergoing health screenings to enter.

But the casino is providing complimentary masks, hand sanitizers and wipes (the latter in bright yellow canisters), and has a designated “extreme clean team” circulating the floor to wipe down surfaces. There is a hotline number patrons can call if anything needs attention or to report physical distancing violations or someone possibly displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

The casino also has real-time capacity scanners at every entrance, which indicate how many guests are in each of two casinos (a smaller one allows smoking). That allows managers to make “proactive and informed decisions” about capping capacity when it seems physical distancing can’t be maintained, says Behm.

The casino is exploring cashless and other no-touch technology and has already replaced the tradition of “hand pays” for slots jackpots, where winners had bills counted into their hands at the machine, with a credit slip paid out at the cash cage.

Head counts and traffic are definitely down over last year, says Behm, but that’s not surprising given live entertainment and big giveaways of jackpots and cars that bring crowds are all on ice for now.

The fear of the virus is certainly a factor, too.

“Some people are comfortable with going out and some people are not, whether that’s the grocery store, the casino or their uncle’s house. Some are not willing to come back yet.”

THIS VIRUS LOVES THE INDOORS

Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says he’s not generally a casino goer, but if he was, he wouldn’t be going right now.

“This virus loves indoor clustering of people and casinos are set up to gather people around slots and gaming tables,” he said.

Standing around with strangers, whether that’s in lines, around slots and tables or in bars or restaurants, poses a danger. The risk is amplified the closer people are and the longer they stay close.

“The second wave will be triggered by a super-spreading event and that’s going to be some sort of indoor mass gathering, whether that’s a church, a bar, a casino or a concert.”

He says Canada continues to ride a delicate balance between opening its economy and letting people live their lives, while controlling virus numbers.

“So that means looking at what’s really necessary and what’s a luxury,” he said. Schools, stores and factories could be seen as necessities, while things like bars, casinos and movie theatres are luxuries.

He acknowledges casinos in particular are big employers and even bigger generators of revenue for governments, but the risk is evident, he said.

It’s possible to minimize the threat, but it does take effort, time and resources, said Deonandan. The key is to keep the number of people inside a casino small and spread out. And he says masks should be mandatory for everyone at all times.

“That’s just not something you can get around.”

Employees should be doubly protected – with masks to handle outward transmission and visors to protect against inward transmission.

As for temperature checks, the professor thinks they may catch a few carriers of the virus, but fevers can easily be suppressed with over-the-counter medications and those who are infected but are asymptomatic or haven’t developed symptoms yet won’t be flagged by a thermometer.

It’s more important, he says, that casinos offer plenty of hand washing and sanitizing stations, along with strong messaging about hygiene, physical distancing, and not touching the face. And while the risk of surface transmission is believed to be low, it’s still important to properly and frequently disinfect the things that people touch.

Casinos also must invest in maintaining and upgrading air filtration systems and to ensure air is always moving, says Deonandan.

Surveillance and enforcement, something casinos are already adept at, are going to be critical to maintain physical distancing, says the professor. It will change the casino experience for many and maybe improve it for some.

“It’s really about what motivates someone to be in a casino. Are you there to socialize or to sit by yourself and gamble at a slot machine?” he said. In some cases, pandemic measures may boost the comfort level. Instead of jockeying for a spot at a craps table or sitting elbow-to-elbow playing poker, Deonandan says barriers to keep people apart could be made to feel like individual, spacious booths.

“Casinos have the resources and the motivation to get it right. They are motivated to get people in and keep them in, so people have to feel safe.”

SOUTH OF THE BORDER

The reality of the coronavirus has even hit home in Sin City.

Las Vegas, which opened its famed casino strip on June 4 to headlines about larger-than-expected crowds ignoring physical distancing and hardly a mask in sight, has now seen the majority of its operators institute mandatory temperature checks and masks for guests and employees.

Dice are splashed with sanitizer after every throw and dealers stand behind plastic shields. There are also plastic barriers between every two seats at bars.

But New Jersey took it a step further, deciding to ban alcohol (or drinks of any kind), eating and smoking in its nine casinos in Atlantic City, while limiting capacity to 25 per cent.

Many casinos in New York state are going the same route. Gamblers can only get water and non-alcoholic drinks at Oneida Nations Enterprises’ three casinos and must drink them from a straw with their masks in place. It is also among a number of the state’s casinos limiting entry to those who live within 160 kilometres. And if you live in 19 U.S. states that have elevated levels of COVID-19, you’ll be turned away.

The entry procedure, included in the casinos’ 25-page reopening plan, includes swiping ID to prove you’re not from a restricted state, lowering a face covering for three seconds to be visually checked, putting the mask back, and grabbing hand sanitizer.

Kewadin Casino in Michigan is recommending that those with “compromised immunity or vulnerabilities not visit,” and is prohibiting any congregating around slots. Mystic Lake casino in Prior Lake, Minn. is taking temperatures, limiting on-site smoking and providing an on-site health clinic for staff.

An anti-smoking group in the United States says about 170 casinos have gone smoke-free in the wake of COVID-19.

A TOUCHLESS CASINO

Some of the changes COVID-19 has wrought could be here to stay, says Burns at the CGA, but that likely depends on how long the virus poses a threat. What is for sure is that the pandemic is forcing innovation in a way few things could.

Long a bastion of cash, this pandemic, and the resulting reluctance or downright fear of handing bills, could push the casino industry to embrace digital payment options. Few casinos allow for contactless or mobile payments and many regulators don’t allow it. But the feeling is that the coronavirus will accelerate the conversation.

The CGA has been working on plans for going cashless for more than a year, says Burns. It recently released a technical proposal for the adoption of debit or cards or digital apps, such as Apply Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal and is now collecting industry feedback.

“We started looking into it last year but the pandemic has had a way of escalating timelines,” he said. “It’s not going to happen immediately, but these tools will find their way to the gaming floors in the coming months.”

The American Gaming Association in June found that 57 per cent of people who visited a casino in the past year said the option to use digital payments on the casino floor is important to them and 59 per cent said they are less likely to use cash because of COVID-19.

The trade group said alternatives should be available to anyone uneasy about using cash. And it said that limit setting within digital platforms – both in terms of dollars and time spent playing – could encourage people to gamble responsibly.

And innovation could ultimately lead to a fully touchless slot experience. Las Vegas-based Scientific Games has developed a mobile wallet and app that connects by Bluetooth to a slot machine. The player operates the machine from their phone and if they win, the money can go right back to their bank account or be turned into casino credits.

The company has also created a platform that notifies floor staff when a player leaves a machine so that it can be sanitized and tells a player through an app how recently a device was cleaned. When a player connects, the machines on either side become inoperable to maintain physical distancing.

Reduced number of patrons in ontario casinos brings challenges

from https://www.canadiancasinos.ca/

Ontario’s government recently announced the official beginning of Stage 3 of the businesses reopening plan on a provincial scale. It includes casino venues and gambling halls but this does not necessarily mean that all of them will reopen instantly. Southwestern Ontario casinos have no plans of reopening for the time being, while Niagara venues prepare for their relaunch.

This week is a special one for the gaming field of Ontario, as Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation recently announced that casino venues and gaming halls have the permission to relaunch in-person gaming when they are ready to. There are certain conditions they should keep in mind when they greenlight their operation in the foreseeable future. They aim to protect both patrons and casino staff.

Some of the conditions mandatory for future operation include a limit on individuals making their way into the casino venue. Enclosed spaces should not welcome more than 50 individuals at all times. Physical distancing is also mandatory for regular operation on the premises of the gaming hotspots. One of the ways this could be promoted is through the switching off of some slot machines.

This would create more physical space between the working ones and prevent any congregations of people around the clusters of slot machines. Players should also wear masks when they gamble within the casinos. The new safety measures have reached every casino management in the region, but worries have also been expressed. Paul Burns, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Gaming Association, stated that the economic ability to survive worries local casinos.

Mr. Burns noted that the 50-person capacity mandated by the provincial government is putting at risk casino locations if they reopen right now. He stated that the small number should not be overlooked, as it limits the gaming revenue these venues will generate at the end of the day. The operating costs of casino venues would probably not be covered due to this limited capacity.

Niagara Falls Prepare for Reopening

This is projected to put many casino venues in a tight spot which is why many of them will have to remain closed for now. London Mayor Ed Holder stated that every day without in-person gaming results in great loss for the city coffers. Some CA$4.5 million is generated by Gateway Casinos London at Western Fair.

Niagara Falls’ two casino locations are currently preparing for the official launch of their gaming operation, even though the region is still in Stage 2 of the business reopening plan. Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino have not issued a certain date for their reopening, but they are paving the way for their eventual reopening in accordance with all measures issued by the government. Niagara Casinos has 4,000 staff members at the moment.

All of them are currently on temporary leave but they could return to their workplace in the upcoming weeks. Niagara Casinos President Richard Taylor stated that a review of the restrictions is now in progress. Plexiglass partitions are being installed across the casino venue for fortified protection of both patrons and staff members.

Apr 2020

Gaming in the Era of COVID-19

From: https://www.mccarthy.ca/en/insights/articles/gaming-era-covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented social and economic uncertainty.  The hospitality and leisure industry has been among the hardest hit sectors of the global economy and traditional land-based gaming organizations are facing extraordinary financial pressures, including closures and lay-offs.

 Compliance and anti-money laundering professionals in the gaming business who have been laid off will very likely find refuge in other industries – even in these trying economic times – as they have a transferable and in-demand skill set.  When the industry does recover, getting these experienced compliance professionals back will be critical.

 These circumstances result in a need for an enhanced focus on compliance. Gaming organizations should be looking at how they will ensure the continuity of their compliance and anti-money laundering programs in a post COVID-19 world, where they will be faced with tighter financial constraints and potentially less-experienced staff managing those programs.  They may also face an influx of potentially illicit cash that has been lying dormant during the shutdown.

 The current “pause” in operations, as painful as it may be, presents a unique opportunity to prepare for the industry’s grand reopening.  Some of the questions that gaming organizations should be asking themselves in advance of the recovery include:

  • What positions are “mission critical” for continuity of compliance programs and what are the retention strategies for those positions?
  • Are there opportunities to enhance compliance processes and policies?
  • How many former staff are expected to return, how many will be new and how will the organization attract experienced personnel?
  • How will employee training be ramped up prior to opening the gaming floor?
  • What can organizations do to clearly demonstrate to stakeholders – players, employees, shareholders, regulators and the public – that they are ready to open?
  • Is new staff adequately familiar with, and prepared for, regulatory filing requirements?

Gaming organizations that have a footprint in both the online and land-based environments will likely be better positioned to ensure business and compliance program continuity, as the digital side of their business remains open.  But make no mistake: while the industry is reeling from the fallout of the current pandemic, it should use this time to enhance its focus on compliance and anti-money laundering programs.

2020 AGM ANNOUNCEMENT – RESCHEDULED TO NOVEMBER 2 TO 4, 2020

Please see the attached message regarding the rescheduling of the 2020 AGM.

Mar 2020

Meaz Nour-Eldin WANTED FOR KIDNAPPING, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

Meaz Nour-Eldin WANTED FOR KIDNAPPING, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

In July 2019, a victim was kidnapped, assaulted, and held by multiple suspects while a ransom was demanded for release. The victim was subsequently located, and the suspects were charged with kidnapping.

Meaz Nour-Eldin is wanted by the Surrey RCMP detachment on a Canada-wide warrant for kidnapping, aggravated assault, unlawful confinement, and use of a firearm during the commission of an offence, as well as robbery and firearm offences. He has been evading arrest since July 2019. Furthermore, Nour-Eldin is wanted by the London Police Service on a separate case, also involving numerous charges, namely assault, trafficking in persons by recruiting, and obtaining sexual services for consideration.0_d95dc023d0-c531b28256-109426159

Oregon casino closes after employee gets coronavirus

From: https://www.cdcgamingreports.com/oregon-casino-closes-after-employee-gets-coronavirus/

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Leaders of an American Indian reservation in Oregon shut down its casino and several other facilities Monday after an employee contracted coronavirus, and a state health official said the virus is likely circulating and will appear in additional locations in the state.

The employee of the Wildhorse Resort and Casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation is hospitalized in Walla Walla, Washington, and is the third such case to emerge in Oregon, state and tribal officials said. The previous two other known cases occurred in the Portland area and had household contacts with each other, but the casino is 215 miles (350 kilometers) east of the city.

“With having three cases fairly quickly identified, two of which we can’t identify the specific source, that would indicate to us that this disease is circulating in our community and we will likely see additional cases,” Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Meanwhile, dozens of employees of a hospital in a Portland suburb — Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center — have been quarantined at home after they may have had contact, unprotected, with the first Oregonian to come down with the virus, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

“Per current CDC guidelines, people who have had contact with COVID-19 patients are asked to maintain self-isolation at home for 14 days,” said Dr. Mary E. Giswold, associate director of Kaiser’s hospital and post-acute care.

Chuck Sams, communications director for the confederated tribes, said the tribe was informed Monday morning by Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon Health Authority officials that an employee of the resort and casino had tested positive for the virus. The casino, an education facility, tribal elders community center and the cultural institute were being shut down for one to two days while they are disinfected. All community events on the reservation, home to about 3,000 people, are canceled for this week.

The man worked in a confined area of the casino operation and not with the general public, Sams said.

He had attended a youth basketball game at a gymnasium at the middle school in Weston, Oregon, on Saturday. School district officials have closed the gym and will clean it. Other spectators who may have been in a closed environment with the individual would be considered “low-risk” exposures, the state health authority said.

It is a mystery how the man came down with the coronavirus. He had not traveled to a part of the world with known cases of COVID-19, the health department said, saying in a statement that “it is considered a case of community transmission.”

Sidelinger said that means “we don’t know who that person is who gave this individual the infection.

“So it happened somewhere out in the community — by community it could have been their home, a business, another location, somewhere where they had close contact with someone who was ill. But we don’t know who that case was.”

Those who live in and around the 172,000-acre (70,000-hectare) reservation are worried.

“I think people have very strong concerns with this … but the tribe has tried to make sure that people are calm,” Sams said. “And we’re just trying to make sure that there’s an overabundance of precaution by these closures to clean facilities just so that we can ensure that the disease doesn’t spread.”

Clackamas County, near Portland and the home of an elementary school where one of the other COVID-19 patients worked, declared a state of emergency. The declaration by the county board of commissioners allows the county to seek additional resources from the state.

Feb 2020

B.C. tells inquiry money laundering has warped economy, fuelled opioid crisis

Money laundering has distorted British Columbia’s economy, fuelled the opioid crisis and overheated the real estate market, the province argued at the start of an inquiry into the criminal activity on Monday.

Niagara tourism industry takes 'measured' approach to coronavirus

An excellent article on how the Niagara tourism industry and Fallsview casino are facing the potential threat from the coronavirus.

Jan 2020

2020 AGM Keynote Speaker - Dr. Larry Barton

2020 AGM Keynote Speaker - Dr. Larry Barton

Dr. Larry Barton is one of the world's leading experts in risk and crisis prevention and management for casino operators globally.  Over the past thirty years, he has managed cases of arson, attempted murder, suicide, extortion, intimate partner violence and threats by customers, guests and employees at 46 casinos in sixteen countries; he works with gaming regulators and property leaders to ensure that management has enacted "the big four"- a duty to care, duty to supervise, duty to act and duty to warn when a risk posed by any person emerges.

Larry knows the industry well.  He has served on the faculty of Harvard Business School, UNLV and Penn State and for 24 consecutive years remains the highest rated instructor in the UNR-UNLV Executive Development Program for Gaming leaders.  For the past 16 years he is also the highest rated instructor at The FBI Academy where he teaches the identification of the dangerous employee and customer.  During high profile incidents at in the gaming and hospitality industry, he is the on air commentator for the BBC, CNBC and The Washington Post.  To date has managed over 3000 cases globally.  He has worked with Canadian investigators on a number of cases involving workplace violence, notably the York Regional Police with whom he has collaborated for two decades.

The author of over 50 peer reviewed articles in the gaming and management literature, Larry has authored four best selling books; his next book, The Violent Person @ Work, is forthcoming in June from Anthem Press of London.  He has testified in fourteen cases regarding alleged negligence regarding allegations of reckless management by hotels and casino operators and will reflect on lessons learned that each regulator can apply to their important work.  His web site is larrybarton.com

Dec 2019

The underworld laundromat: How to clean $10 million in mob money

Laundering, the near-invisible financial fiddling, is an essential element of the cycle that keeps mobsters and transnational crime bosses in business

Nov 2019

GSPC is now on Twitter!!

GSPC is now on Twitter!!

We are pleased to announce that the Gaming Security Professionals of Canada is now on Twitter!! Follow us here to stay up to date on the latest information and intelligence in the Gaming Industry in Canada!!!

Casino guest racks up huge list of fraud charges

On the eve of Black Friday and the annual season of — for many — shopping excess comes a stark warning to consumers: guard your privacy.

Jul 2019

NEWS, SECURITY ALERT

NEWS, SECURITY ALERT

Investigators with the York Regional Police Organized Crime and Intelligence Bureau – Traditional Organized Crime Task Force, along with investigators from the Canada Revenue Agency, the Ontario Provincial Police, Peel Regional Police, Canada Border Services and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) have charged nine people and seized more than $35 million in proceeds of crime in an illegal gaming investigation named Project Sindacato.

An investigation into the Figliomeni organized crime group began in early 2018, with a focus on its participation in a criminal organization, money laundering, loan sharking and illegal gaming. During the course of the investigation, intelligence gathered indicated that the criminal organization was acting under the direction of Angelo FIGLIOMENI. Its criminal activities included illegal gaming operations in the City of Vaughan as well as an extensive money laundering system to hide the immense profitability from these activities.

Beginning on Friday, July 12, 2019, with the assistance of the Toronto Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, Durham Regional Police, Hamilton Police Service, Waterloo Regional Police, Barrie Police Service, Brantford Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 48 warrants at residences, businesses and cafes were executed across the Greater Toronto Area. As a result of the search warrants, nine people were taken into custody and more than $35 million dollars in offence-related property and proceeds of crime has been seized. Some of the property seized includes more than $1 million in currency, 27 mafia-owned homes and 23 high-end luxury vehicles.

“These arrests signify the fall of power for the most significant ‘Ndrangheta crime family operating in York Region,” said Chief Eric Jolliffe. “Over the past 18 months, we have invested heavily, using our finest and most highly-trained investigators to bring an end to this family’s international illegal gaming and money-laundering activities. We know that violence has occurred as a result of their activities and that our community is a safer place following these arrests and charges.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Jan 2019

News Briefing – January 2019

News Briefing – January 2019

2019 AGM – Caesars Windsor – June 18-20

The 2019 AGM was a great event, with an outstanding education program and a unique opportunity to network with the key persons engaged in the Canadian gaming industry's security, surveillance, risk management, cyber security and operational compliance functions. 
 

Happy Anniversary!

In 2019 we will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Gaming Security Professionals of Canada. The Association was formed in 1994 as a network of casino security directors in the early days of the Canadian industry. The initiative to create this network was undertaken by Loto-Quebec and it became a registered not-for profit called the Canadian Association of Casino Security Directors (CACSD). The mandate, scope and services provided by what evolved into the GSPC have broadened greatly since those early days, but the commitment to the security, integrity and responsibility of our industry has remained unchanged.

 

2019 – 2021 GSPC Strategic Plan

The GSPC Board of Directors is pleased to present its 2019 – 2021 Strategic Plan. We are confident it will provide the Association with the framework to support its continuing evolution. Your comments, questions and suggestions are most welcome. You can contact us via the GSPC website or direct to our Executive Director, Gerry Boose at gerald.boose@gspc.ca.

Dec 2018

News Briefing – Dec 10 2018

News Briefing – Dec 10 2018

Announcing Changes to GSPC Board of Directors

Our colleague Val Abela, Security Director at Casino Rama, has decided to step down from the GSPC Board of Directors owing to personal reasons.  Val has been a Vice President on the Board and Chair of its Governance Committee.  In stepping down, Val said, “I am VERY proud of the Association and even more proud to have been able to serve as a member of the Board and work alongside industry professionals.   I greatly appreciate the support I received, thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Board and will be very happy to assist in any way possible going forward.”  The Directors of the GSPC would like to thank Val for her service in this role and are pleased she will continue to be an active Member of the Association.

Michael Robitaille, appointed as Vice President of GSPC effective November 22, 2018, brings 20 years of gaming experience to the Board.

The GSPC Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Michael Robitaille, Director Security and Surveillance Service Operations at OLG has been appointed by the Board to fill the vacancy created by Val’s departure.  Such appointments are provided for in the GSPC Bylaws when a vacancy occurs mid-term.  Mike’s appointment took effect on November 22, 2018 and will continue through to the 2020 AGM, at which point there would be an election.  We welcome Mike and the OLG presence on the Board.  Mike brings a wealth of experience to the table and OLG has been a great supporter of the Association.  OLG has a very significant presence in the GSPC and has twice been a major Sponsor of the AGM’s.

See Michael Robitaille's Bio

 

Publication

Canadian Anti-Money Laundering Law 2018:  A Period of Intense Activity – by Rob Kroeker, Vice President Corporate Security and Compliance, BCLC

This year has proven to be an active one when it comes to anti-money laundering law in Canada. As casinos, both land based and internet, are amongst the sectors of the economy subject to Canada’s anti-money laundering requirements, change to the anti-money laundering regime often mean important changes to anti-money laundering practice in casinos. As we will see, the activities this year, and the coming changes, will definitely have impacts to casinos across the country…

Canadian Anti-Money Laundering Law 2018: A Period of Intense Activity

This year has proven to be an active one when it comes to anti-money laundering law in Canada. As casinos, both land based and internet, are amongst the sectors of the economy subject to Canada’s anti-money laundering requirements, change to the anti-money laundering regime often mean important changes to anti-money laundering practice in casinos. As we will see, the activities this year, and the coming changes, will definitely have impacts to casinos across the country...

Oct 2018

GSPC – Fall 2018 Newsletter

The GSPC is enhancing its Member services by issuing Newsletters each Spring, Winter and Fall, as well as providing News Briefings with an operational focus on emerging issues.

Please keep in mind that it is our Members that are the experts in Canadian Gaming Security and we welcome your input into the GSPC website, Newsletters and News Briefings. We encourage you to forward your ideas to Gerry Boose, our Executive Director, at gerald.boose@gspc.ca.

Congratulations to Fallsview Casino on an Outstanding 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM)!

Those persons attending the 2018 AGM at Fallsview Casino will know that Richard Paris and his team did a great job in Hosting the event. The venue, the program and the networking opportunities were all first class and set a standard the GSPC will strive to replicate in future years.

Special thanks to our Title Sponsor, OLG as well as our Supporting Sponsors, Fallsview Casinos, BCLC, ISB and GardaWorld. As well, none of this would be possible without the continuing support of our Corporate Members, Honeywell, SSI, Omnigo (previously iView), GLI, Everi and Jean-Francois Lefebvre.

Thank you to all those persons who participated in our AGM satisfaction survey. You will find the results of the survey on the GSPC website at here.

Highlights of the 2018 Association Business Meeting (ABM).

The ABM is the last item on the agenda of the Annual General Meeting, at which time the focus is on the business of the Association.  The main item of business on the ABM agenda was the election of two Directors to fill vacancies created by end of terms.

Elected were:

  • Richard Paris of Fallsview Casinos, President
    3 year term – 2018 to 2021
  • Benoit Filiatreault of Loto-Quebec, Vice President
    3 year term – 2018 to 2021

The other Members of the GSPC Board are Vice Presidents Shawn McGurk of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Val Abela of Casino Rama Resort, Brent Severeyns of Great Canadian Gaming and Vice President Secretary/Treasurer Kevin Sweeney of BCLC.

Other items of note included reaching the milestone of having 100 Members in the Association and the great strides made in updating the website in particular and ensuring the technological platform met the needs of the organization for the foreseeable future.

One area of concern was that while the Association’s balance sheet remains strong, it was anticipated that there would be some future funding pressures if the current trends continued. To mitigate this trend, there was a decision to increase the annual Membership Fees for Individuals to $200 and AGM Registration Fees to $300. There was also recognition that more Corporate Memberships would be required to sustain the level of services the organization has been providing.

Perhaps the highpoint of the ABM was the presentation of the Recognition of Outstanding Service award to the GSPC’s Immediate Past President, Lynda Vachon. Lynda was not able to attend the event and the award was accepted on her behalf by Benoit Filiatreault.

There was also the commitment of Caesars Windsor to Host the 2019 AGM and BCLC to Host the 2020 AGM.

Looking Forward to the 2019 AGM at Caesars Windsor.

The GSPC had been working with the Canadian Gaming Summit for many months to coordinate our events at Caesars Windsor in 2019, but a late and unexpected decision by the Summit to move their event to Edmonton in the same time frame left your Association with the necessity of going it alone. Where possible, your Association tries to collaborate with the Summit to accommodate our Members and Sponsors who wish to participate in both, but with the lack of consultation and late notice, we are left with the situation where we are not going to be able to do that and our Members will unfortunately have to choose to attend one or the other. We hope you choose us!

In any event, the GSPC 2019 Annual General Meeting will be held at Caesars Windsor commencing with a reception the evening of Tuesday June 18 and being concluded at approximately Noon on Thursday June 20. Mark it in your calendars!

Strategic Planning

You will find the GSPC’s Strategic Plan 2015-2018 on our website. We are pleased to see that many of our strategic initiatives have been achieved over the term, but much remains to be done. Your Board will be putting its collective mind to the strategic direction for 2018-2021 over the next few months. Your thoughts would be most welcome.

Want to Get Involved?

The GSPC Board has a number of committees chaired by our Vice Presidents.  They are as follows:

  • Membership
    Brent Severeyns, Great Canadian Gaming
  • Communication
    Shawn McGurk, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries
  • Governance
    Val Abela, Casino Rama Resort
  • Education
    Kevin Sweeney, BCLC

If you want to get involved in any of these activities, you can contact the respective chairs accordingly.  Their coordinates are in the Membership list located in the Members Only portion of our website.

Please note that we have a particular need for social media expertise on the Communication Committee.  Shawn would be pleased to hear from you if you or someone within your area of responsibility would like to participate.

May 2018

GSPC 2018 AGM at Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls

Mark it in your calendar! The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is the premier event in the GSPC calendar. It commences with a reception the evening of June 20 and business programing concludes at noon on June 22. The AGM immediately follows the Canadian Gaming Summit which will also be held in Niagara Falls.

You can view the invitation and registration form on our homepage at gspc.ca.

The 2018 Canadian Gaming Summit in Niagara Falls

The GSPC will once again be very much involved in the Summit and for this coming year will be an Education Program Content Development Partner.  Our lead person on the content development will be one of our Vice Presidents, Kevin Sweeney of BCLC.  If you have thoughts as to education program content for the AGM or Summit, please feel free to contact Kevin at ksweeney@bclc.com.

It should also be noted that GSPC Members will be offered substantial discounts on Summit registration and GSPC Corporate Members may be eligible for additional Summit discounts if they wish to be further involved as a Summit exhibitor or sponsor.  Feel free to contact Gerry Boose if you would like further information regarding GSPC Member benefits.

Responding to a Changing World

At Casino Rama Resort our goal is to provide a safe, enjoyable entertainment environment for our patrons and entertainers. Perimeter protection, access control and security inspections are some aspects to consider. To that end, our property has recently purchased Garrett PD 6500i walk-through metal detectors for use at the entrance of our 5000 seat Entertainment Centre.

Due to recent world events, more and more artists are requesting higher levels of safety precautions be readily available at performance venues. The newly purchased metal detectors are equipped with infrared sensors designed to boost detection capabilities. Our security employees are trained to perform the new screening process, including the use of handheld wands for secondary inspections.

These metal detectors will provide the artist and concert goers with the utmost peace of mind, while security professionals remain vigilant in improving security controls and emergency procedures.

- Val Abel Vice President GSPC and Director of Security at Casino Rama

Mar 2018

GSPC – Winter 2018 Newsletter

GSPC – Winter 2018 Newsletter

Lynda Vachon Retires

Many of you will already be aware that our President, Lynda Vachon of Loto-Quebec, has announced her well deserved retirement. Her last day of work was January 12, 2018. Lynda provided great leadership to our Association and will continue to be involved as an Alumni Member. We are anticipating that she will be joining us at the 2018 Annual General Meeting in Niagara Falls to facilitate the transition process, so many of you will have the opportunity to personally congratulate her and wish her well upon her retirement.

Filling Board Vacancies

The GSPC Board has the authority through the GSPC Bylaws to appoint Board members when vacancies occur between AGM’s. At its meeting of January 11, 2018, the Board appointed Richard Paris of Fallsview Casinos to the position of President. It also appointed Benoit Filiatreault, Lynda’s replacement at Loto-Quebec, to the Vice President vacancy created by Richard’s promotion. Both appointments were made for terms to conclude at the 2018 AGM, at which point there will be elections held to fill these positions for a period of three years. Persons interested in nominating or being nominated for these positions should contact Gerry Boose, our Executive Director.

2018 AGM – Niagara Falls Ontario

You have already been notified that the 2018 is going to take place in Niagara Falls Ontario, commencing with a reception the evening of June 20th and finishing at lunchtime on June 22nd. Our Host jurisdiction will be Fallsview Casinos. Our Platinum Sponsor for the event will be OLG and our Supporting Sponsors will be Fallsview Casinos and BCLC.

Many thanks to our President, Richard Paris, and his team for taking on the premier event in the GSPC schedule. More information will be provided to you as it becomes available and posted on our website.

NOTE* If you want to stay at Fallsview Casino – BOOK SOON – particularly if you want to attend the Summit. Rooms are limited in availability. Remember that you have to make separate (but linked) bookings for the Summit and the GSPC AGM.

2018 Canadian Gaming Summit – Niagara Falls Ontario

The GSPC is in the process of renewing its relationship with the Summit and we expect to be very much involved in the development of the Educational programing for the 2018 event. The Summit is also going to be held in Niagara Falls next year, from June 18th to 20th, so it will be very convenient for our Members who wish to attend both. Again, more information will be provided to you as it becomes available.

2019 AGM – Caesars Windsor!

Thanks to all of you who participated in our survey to assist the GSPC Board of Directors in determining the location of the 2019 AGM.  The Board concurred with the majority of our Members who preferred that it be held in conjunction with the 2019 Canadian Gaming Summit at Caesars Windsor in Windsor Ontario.

The 2019 AGM will commence the evening of Wednesday June 19th and conclude at approximately noon on Friday June 21st.  Those dates will overlap the Summit, which will be held June 18th to June 20th, but we are working with the Summit to minimize scheduling conflicts.  Mark the dates in your calendar for next year!

Many thanks to Caesars Windsor for hosting our event once again.  We will provide more information at this year’s AGM in Niagara Falls.

Want to Get Involved?

The GSPC Board has a number of committees chaired by our Vice Presidents. They are as follows:

  • Membership - Brent Severeyns (Great Canadian Gaming)
  • Communications - Shawn McGurk (Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries)
  • Governance - Val Abela (Casino Rama)
  • Education - Kevin Sweeney (BCLC)

If you want to get involved in any of these activities, you can contact the respective chairs accordingly. Their coordinates can be found in the Membership list found in the Members Only portion of our website.

Our Administrative Support Team

You should all be aware that running a not-for-profit professional association of approximately 80 Members across Canada is a significant undertaking. Gerry Boose is our only staff member, and that is on a part-time basis. Gerry and the Board’s job would be impossible if it was not for the support of our Administrative volunteers and their respective organizations. In addition to Gerry our virtual “Head Office” consists of:

  • Business Administration - Jaude Pominville (Loto-Quebec)
  • Membership Administration - Cathy Cuglietta (BCLC)
  • Communication Administration - Kurt Raffai (Saskatchewan Gaming)

Many thanks to them for the great work they do.
 

Emergency Preparedness Week 2018 – May 6 to 12

Emergency Preparedness (EP) Week is a national awareness initiative which takes place during the first full week of May each year. EP Week is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with Emergency Management agencies in each of the provinces and territories.

Since 1996, EP Week has served to increase the public’s awareness about the importance of emergency preparedness. EP Week encourages everyone focus on three basic EP principles;

  • Know the Risks
  • Make a Plan
  • Get an Emergency Kit

Know the Risks: Some emergency and disaster risks are shared by everyone. Others are regional or workplace specific. Some risks are unique to an individual, based on one’s medical condition or functional needs. It’s important to know the risks that affect you, your family, your workplace, and your community. Some emergency risks to consider include; fires, floods, power outages, medical emergencies, flu/virus emergencies, structural collapse, chemical spills, extreme weather events, various human threats, critical systems failures, and others.

Make a Plan: To successfully manage through an emergency, it is important that you have a Plan, review/update the Plan annually, and if possible, practice the execution of the Plan. Everyone should have a personal/family plan to respond to household emergencies, and be well versed on their workplace emergency procedures for responding to a major workplace event. Personal protective needs, evacuation routes, assembly locations, emergency contact lists, communication means, emergency childcare options, and access to survival essentials are just some of considerations for a Plan. Public Safety Canada provides a tool to make a family emergency plan online in about 20 mins.

Get an Emergency Kit: It is recommended you have a well-stocked emergency kit containing critical supplies essential for your survival if isolated from emergency services for 72 hours or more. The Kit should include a copy of your Plan and items such as; water, medication, nonperishable food, flashlight/batteries, candles/matches, whistle, blankets, heat source, important documents, and other items specific to your family’s needs.

Every year during EP Week at Niagara Casinos, the security department coordinates an employee awareness campaign by partnering with Emergency Management Ontario, the local Fire Department and EMS, and internal stakeholders such as JHSC members and Supervisors/Managers in other departments. An information booth is set-up in the employee dining room, staffed by security and the partnering agencies. Employees are provided with information about the three EP principles above, workplace safety and emergency procedures, and community emergency services. Videos, quizzes, draws, and safety related prizes are incorporated to make the event fun and engaging.

If you are interested in establishing an EP Week program at your organization, contact your provincial Emergency Management agency. You can also contact Richard Paris for more details about EP Week programming at Niagara Casinos.

Jan 2018

An Independent Review of Money Laundering in Lower Mainland Casinos conducted for the Attorney General of British Columbia

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Motorola to buy Vancouver surveillance systems maker for $1 billion US

Motorola Solutions announced Friday that it has entered into a $1 billion U.S all-cash agreement to buy Vancouver based Avigilon, a maker of video surveillance systems.

Avigilon high definition video products are used for surveillance in prisons, airports, government facilities, health-care centres, schools and casinos. The company holds more than 750 U.S. and international patents.

AML in Canada

As part of one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world, Canadian gaming operators have long shown an ongoing commitment to improving compliance and cooperation with federal and provincial anti-money laundering (AML) legislation and rules. Canadian Gaming Business recently sat down with leading experts from across Canada to get their perspective on the industry’s approach to AML and the challenges of conducting business under the regulatory microscope.

Oct 2017

GSPC Newsletter – Fall Edition 2017

Nov 2016

Website Development

Website Development

The new GSPC website was introduced at the 2012 AGM.  Since that time we have made great progress thanks to the website design work done by Nenad Lubura of Saskatchewan Gaming and the editorial work done by Cathy Anastasio of BCLC and Jaude Pominville of Loto-Québec. Comments, questions or suggestions can be forwarded to gspc@gspc.ca .

Composition of board of Directors

Composition of board of Directors

Composition of board of Directors

The Gaming Security Professionals of Canada (GSPC) Board of Directors wishes to advise its Membership of a change in the Board’s composition.  In 2012, Mr. Terry Towns retired from the BCLC. He was generous enough to continue insuring his role as President until the 2013 AGM in June, when a new President was elected, Mr. Robert Kroeker, VP Compliance and Corporate Security at the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, Richmond BC. On behalf of the GSPC and all its members, congratulations!

Jan 9-16 Update

Jan 9-16 Update

To the GSPC Membership

We are in the process of re-establishing our practice of providing you with relevant articles and publications, by means of our website, which might not have otherwise crossed your desks.  The latest addition is a publication by our Founding Corporate Member, iView Systems.  It is called “A Systematic Approach to Security Information Convergence”.  As most of you will already know, iView has been a major player in the management of security information in the Canadian Gaming industry for quite some time and is well positioned to speak authoritatively on this topic.  We hope you will find it to be of interest.

Best regards,

Gerald Boose, Executive Director GSPC

Jan 2015

GSPC Newsletter – Winter 2016

GSPC Newsletter – Winter 2016

Hello to All.  I hope your winter has not been too arduous!  Here is what is happening in the GSPC:

Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2016 – As I mention in the last Newsletter, the 2016 AGM will be hosted by Loto-Québec and commence at Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau (QC) the evening of June 15th and continue through June 16th and 17th.  We will finish at 12:30 PM Eastern on the 17th, which will allow you time to travel home before the weekend.  You should have received the formal notice of the event by email recently and you can find the relevant documentation on the home page of the GSPC website.  We hope to see you there!

Association Business Meeting 2016 – The Business Meeting is held in conjunction with the AGM.  You will find it taking place at 11:15 AM on June 17th on the AGM agenda.  In addition to the required administrative functions, you will be getting status reports from the Board and its Committees, an opportunity to comment and vote on the proposed Bylaws amendments, and an opportunity to participate in the appointment of members to the Board of Directors to fill vacancies occurring in 2016.  It is anticipated the Business Meeting package will be sent out to you in early May of this year.

Strategic Plan 2015 -2018 – The GSPC Strategic Plan has been updated for the period 2015 -2018.  A notice of the update went out late in 2015 and you will find it on the website.  Have a look at the document and give us your thoughts, particularly if you feel there is a role you can play in achieving our objectives.

Canadian Gaming Summit 2016

The 2016 Summit will be held at the Ottawa Convention Centre and Casino Lace Leamy June 13-15.  Once again, the GSPC will be sponsoring and I will be chairing the Summit’s Security & Surveillance Education Program.  You will find a link to the Summit website on the GSPC home page.  GSPC Members enjoy a $400 discount on Summit registration fees, so make sure to tick off the GSPC box on your Summit registration form if you plan to attend.  I should note that the Summit’s closing event on February 15th will be held concurrently with the GSPC opening reception, both at Casino Lac Leamy, so Summit participants may want to time share between the two.

AML Communications and Guidelines Projects – We now have a draft white paper that will form the basis of a communications piece which we hope will dispel some of the myths and misconceptions with regard to money laundering in the gaming environment.  Discussions are underway as to how best to launch this initiative.  We have also sent out requests to the Canadian gaming jurisdictions for their AML policies and procedures on a non-disclosure basis.  These documents will serve as inputs into the development of National Guidelines for AML programs.  Anything you can do to expedite the responses in your respective jurisdictions will be greatly appreciated.

Corporate Membership – Since I last wrote, we have been joined by two additional Corporate Members -Synectics and SSI.  Synectics is a global company with a well-established customer base in Ontario.  SSI has operations across the United States and they are in the early stages of entering the Canadian market.  They will be joining our existing Founding Corporate Member - iView, as well as Corporate Members -Honeywell, MNP, SAS, Biometrica and Jean-François Lefebvre.

GSPC Website –We are currently updating our website with a view to making it more current and relevant to the Membership.  Please feel free to forward and articles or publications to me for posting on the site if you think they would be of interest to the Membership.  Also, I encourage you to make use of the Forum – we often share information by email and over the phone amongst ourselves, but the Forum can be a much more effective and efficient manner to achieve the same ends.

I think that is it for now.  Comments or questions are always welcome.  You can get in touch with me at gerald.boose@gspc.ca.

Best regards,

Gerry Boose, Executive Director GSPC