Sault Ste. Marie casino welcomes back guests for the first time in months
SAULT STE. MARIE -- Gamblers in Sault Ste. Marie are finally able to hit the slots once again.
The casino is one of several across Ontario that reopened its doors Saturday, for the first time since the pandemic began.
But the union representing around 100 workers at the casino, says the announcement was a shock.
"I was called into a conference one day and they just said this was going to happen and I was like, ‘why now?’" said Albert Williams, President of United Steelworkers Local 8748.
"The numbers are going up, they're higher than, just like at the beginning of COVID."
Williams said only 2 workers decided they weren't going to return to work.
However, he says many are concerned that a week wasn't enough to prepare.
"It was just very quick, in a time where things aren't looking so good in the province," he said.
"If they just close down certain areas, it's going to cause people to move to other areas where they can go up and do things."
Gamblers who returned to the casino Saturday say they were happy to get out, but are feeling cautiously optimistic about returning.
"I used to come here a few times before the shutdown," said Ronnie Bisaillon.
"I've just got to check and see if there's any people from out of town or local before I'm comfortable."
Another woman who returned, said she's happy to finally have some entertainment that's close to home.
"What wouldn't bring me out? I mean, my God, it's been a long time," said Gail Labbe-Pine.
"You know I live alone in the seniors building, so I mean, I started going to bingo, but it's all the way in Garden River and how the heck do I get there?"
Williams says from the restrictions and safety measures he's seen, Gateway Casinos has gone "above and beyond."
Gateway casinos declined to comment.