There are definite indications that Manitoba’s licensed casinos will be reopening on July 2, according to the union representing many employees at the province’s government-owned facilities. “We believe when people are doing their orientation of course, that they are going to be back in work pretty soon,” said Donnie Bennett, a labour relations specialist for the Manitoba government. “That’s when the casinos will be open.”
The reopening has been anticipated since the province’s casino industry was rocked by a series of high-profile busts. The recent arrests and convictions of the managers of the Caisse de casino de l’Est and its former chief executive officer, Pierre Drapeau, have sent shock waves through the gaming sector. According to reports, the charges against the pair relate to fraud and breach of trust and criminal negligence.
The new laws that the government passed are aimed at helping the gaming industry recover from the storm. They require all casinos to pay taxes to the provincial and federal governments, and prohibit them from requiring employees to work unpaid overtime or for longer hours than the province allows. It also provides employees with a legal entitlement to sick days and compensatory time off.
Even so, the casino industry in Manitoba will probably not fully recover until the end of this year, according to the minister of finance, Ryan Rich. He told reporters he was not concerned about the expected reopening date because, unlike in neighboring Ontario, Manitoba does not require a deposit to begin gambling. Instead, he said, people can deposit as much money as they want on an account and play at any time.
But even if Manitoba’s gaming industry is fully operational on July 1, Bennett said there is no guarantee it would last. “It’s really up to the market forces. There are always ups and downs to every sector and so it’s fair to say that the gaming sector will definitely come down,” he said.
Because of the nature of the business, the province’s licensing rules do not allow the owner of a casino to charge higher wages to its employees than the rest of the industry, which means many employees will likely receive lower wages than their counterparts across the country. Bennett predicted a year ago. Still, Rich said he hopes the increase in pay will be more than offset by the lower cost of living.
While some Manitoba residents were concerned about the potential impact of casinos on the province’s economy, Rich said there is no proof that gambling has hurt the province. According to him, studies show that casinos generate billions of dollars in tax revenues and generate jobs, and they contribute to the development of the province because they help the economy.
When are casinos reopening in Manitoba will depend on the local economic climate, the state of the real estate market, and the overall state of the economy. Bennett, who is also Manitoba’s finance minister, said he has no problem with people who run online gambling operations. from Manitoba but does not believe there is any justification for keeping such businesses out of the province. he added, “The bottom line is that a lot of people gamble.”