After almost 16 months, Chances Casino in Kelowna is more than ready to reopen its doors.
“We know we have a lot of excited patrons that are looking to come back. I can tell you that there are 150 staff members that are excessively excited to be back to work,” said Stan Walt, the owner of Chances Casino.
The casino has been closed since March 16, 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm. But casinos across the province are reopening under phase three of B.C.’s restart plan, which goes live on Thursday, July 1.
With just one day left until doors re-open, Walt described the moment as surreal.
“I really haven’t had the ability to put my mind to the transition and what it will look like,” he said. “But I, personally, am very happy to be at the door to welcome the first guests in the morning and see a lot of the faces we haven’t seen in a while.”
As of Thursday, the casino will return to its regular hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.
During the closure, the casino was busy revamping its facilities, so much to the point where Walt said patrons won’t recognize it.
“It’s a very different environment to offer,” he said.
Parking lots have been repaved, floors have been raised, interior decor has received a makeover, aisles have been widened and gaming equipment has been spaced out for physical distance purposes.
Face masks will still be required and PPE will be found strewn throughout the facility. The casino will operate at a capacity of 340 patrons.
“I think our focus now will be on a continual transition, the next 60 days or so until September,” said Walt.
He described staff members as excited and elated to come back together again.
“We did a mock opening this morning, where we had about 50 staff members come in and go through the process. The energy and excitement from them was just very touching. They hadn’t seen each other in a long time,” he said.
The exciting part for him, he continued, is seeing how patrons react to how much the facility has changed.
“Although we’ve become very adapted to it in the last year, the players walking through the door are going to have a wow factor that says, ‘This is different.’ I know that they will be very pleased with what they see.”