BREAKING NEWS: Casino Rama closing amid COVID-19 concerns

Sunday 15th March 2020

Casino Rama is closing indefinitely due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus. Dave Dawson/OrilliaMatters

Casino Rama is shutting down - temporarily.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has ordered all Ontario casinos to close operations amid growing concerns about the COVID-19 virus, which has been declared a global pandemic.

"The health and safety of casino customers and employees is a priority for OLG and its service providers," notes a press release. "OLG, working with all our casino service providers, is confirming that an orderly shutdown of all casinos across Ontario has begun."

The release notes the closures will be complete within 24 hours.

On Friday, Unifor 1090, the union representing the bulk of employees at Casino Rama, pleaded with Gateway Casinos and Entertainment to follow Quebec's lead and close the gambling facility east of Orillia.

However, the operator balked at the idea and kept the doors open.

On Sunday afternoon, Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop confirmed the OLG has stepped in and forced the closure.

"This is good news," Dunlop told OrilliaMatters. "It's important to the staff, especially, and the people visiting."

According to a news release, the OLG has "decided to close casino operations in Ontario ... in light of the COVID-19 situation."

It goes on to say OLG "has taken this action consistent with the recommendations of the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health related to precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19."

On Saturday night, an employee at Casino Rama filed a formal 'refusal of unsafe work' due to concerns about the workplace. That triggered an immediate investigation by the Ministry of Labour and followed similar actions at two other casinos.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Corey Dalton, president of Unfior Local 1010 noted the uniion is "aggressively" pursuing a closure of the workplace.

OLG will provide an update on when the casinos will re-open, taking into account guidance from public health authorities.

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