Northern Ontario casinos are not participating in a flurry of excitement occurring in American casinos. At the time when casinos in America and elsewhere in the world are welcoming back their customers, casinos in Canada are temporizing, trying to decide whether reopening amidst the pandemic is sound. Casinos need to adjust to new coronavirus rules, allowing fewer players around a poker table and switching on fewer slot machines, and it is unclear at this point whether this will yield profits. If Canadian gamblers are expecting casinos' spectacular comeback, similar to the one witnessed now in Las Vegas, they might be disappointed. It could be a long time before they enter casinos' premises. However impatient they might be to sit down at the poker table, Canadian gamblers meanwhile have to continue wagering on casino websites, in which gaming firms have heavily been investing due to coronavirus lockdown.

Finland Allows Traveling Abroad but Keeps Casinos
Finland Allows Traveling Abroad but Keeps Casinos Shut Pixabay

American casinos present a more vibrant picture than Canadian gambling houses. Since the beginning of the month, casinos have been opening their doors to customers across America. After Steve Sisolak, the governor of Nevada, had given stamp of approval to open casinos, Las Vegas casinos located on and off the Las Vegas Strip went back to business, enabling adjacent restaurants and bars to follow suit. When Treasure Island Resort & Casino reopened on June 4, the staff of the pool bar and the coffee shop became also busy. People coming to play slots at Treasure Island could go for lunch to Pizzeria Francesco's and have a drink in Breeze Bar or enjoy a cup of coffee in the Starbucks, all of which had girded themselves for a post-quarantine season. Señor Frogs and Golden Circle Sports Bar have also resumed their services, and so has done TI's Race & Sports Book. Excited to return to the old order of life, customers lined up on June 4 outside Treasure Island from the early morning, some of them arriving before the dawn to be ushered in among the first.

When gamblers go inside casinos now, they notice changes that casino operators were obliged to make out of health considerations. First what strikes visitors when they enter any reopened casino now is its emptiness. To preserve physical distancing among gamblers, casinos allow fewer of them to be inside at the same time. At blackjack tables, the number of seats is reduced down from six to three. Many slot machines are not operated. Gaming tables are covered with acrylic glass to ensure their thorough cleaning. Installed throughout casinos and lobbies, acrylic barriers also shield off bartenders in bars. Stuff members wear either acrylic face shields or masks. There are also numerous signs inside and outside casinos reminding visitors to keep physical distancing and wash their hands properly. Another innovation is handwashing stations, with soap and water, located throughout casinos' properties. Even dice, cards, and craps are disinfected. Every time a new shooter takes a dice, the dice gets sanitized.

When so many drastic measures are taken to enable people to resume gambling, perhaps some countries are right not to reopen land-based casinos at the moment. The coronavirus pandemic does cost the gambling industry dearly: the American Gambling Associations estimated in March that US economy would suffer $21 billion economic loss from casinos' inaction. And yet, digital casinos, which Finns call "nettikasinot," remain thriving in lockdown. Bloomberg reported back in March that stocks of such casino operators as 888, Gamesys Group Plc, and Playtech gained from the coronavirus pandemic. As soon as the quarantine started, people turned to online gambling with heightened enthusiasm. Some of them felt bored in lockdown and looked for an entertaining pastime at home. Those who were laid off from work searched for an additional income. In Finland alone, more than 3,0000 new customers joined the websites operated by the state-owned casino agency Veikkaus in order to play blackjack, roulette, and slot games.

There are so many people gambling online during the quarantine in Finland that the government has even become concerned about their economic situation and has tightened the limits for online gambling. Aware that in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, gambling can get out of control, Veikkaus has lowered the loss limit of its past-paced gambling games. Since the first of May, the maximum loss limit has been reduced from 2,000 euros to 500 euros per month. The maximum daily loss limit has been lowered from 1,000 euros to 500 euros. This means that if a player loses 500 euros within one day, he or she will not be able to gamble again until the next month. The Ministry of the Interior is convinced that these measures will help reduce the harm that Finnish people might be inflicting on themselves by going on a gambling spree in lockdown.

This amendment will remain in force until 30 September 2020, when, it is hoped, all quarantine restrictions will be lifted in Finland. Meanwhile, the Finnish government is considering to review the Lotteries Act with a view to help Finnish people keep their gambling in check.