VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation announced Sunday that all its B.C. locations will close at 11:59 p.m. due to concern over the spread of COVID-19.
No date for the end of the shut-down has been set.
Affected casinos include the River Rock in Richmond, the Hard Rock in Coquitlam and, Hastings Racecourse and Casino in Vancouver.
The company says no cases have been recorded among staff or guests.
“This measure has been deemed to be in the best interests of the public’s health and ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19,” reads a statement on the company’s website.
The statement says the decision was made in conjunction with the BC Lottery Corporation.
NEWS 1130 has reached out to the BCLC to see if other casinos are similarly set to close but has not yet received a reply.
BREAKING: Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has announced it's closing all 10 of its BC Casinos at midnight tonight due to COVID-19. They include River Rock and Hard Rock. The decision was made in with BCLC, suggesting other casinos in the province are also likely to close.
— Toby Kerr (@Toby_Kerr) March 16, 2020
The BCGEU represents around 3,000 casino workers in the province, including those at the River Rock and Hard Rock casinos.
Union president Stephanie Smith says they were not entirely surprised at Sunday’s announcement.
“We saw that other jurisdictions were making the decision to close casinos ,as the announcements are coming fast and furious. We’d been talking with our employers about our members safety issues and their concerns. We didn’t know that the announcement would be coming as quickly as it did,” she explains.
Smith says the union has not yet heard if other casino operators in the province will announce closures.
“In terms of flattening the curve, in terms of social separation, and ensuring that we play our part in not exacerbating COVID-19 this is a good move,” she says.
As for those who will be out of work come Monday, Smith says their welfare is now the priority.
“Our main concern now will be ensuring that we take care of our membership,” she explains. “We want to talk to employers about their emergency responses in terms of making sure that these members are not taking an undue financial hit.”
Not all workers at affected casinos are members of the union, and Smith says the union has been stressing the need for government to take care of workers as closures and cancellations sweep the country.
“We’re hoping that we’ll hear some news tomorrow–both federally and provincially–about how we can support working people when they are faced with these closures, these event cancellations, all of the things that are really going to financially hit especially those with part-time, precarious work.”
With files from Paul James and Toby Kerr