Nightlife in Halifax has changed dramatically, in line with so many other aspects of local life, over recent months. An evening at the casino has long been one of the most popular nights out, blending fun with sophistication, all against that backdrop of the outside chance that you might end the night with a big win. Yet Halifax’s casinos and gambling venues have, perhaps, faced even bigger challenges than other popular nightspots such as restaurants and nightclubs.
Pros and cons of going online
In recent months, we’ve found online alternatives for all manner of activities, from business meetings to birthday parties. But casinos present a special case. The online alternatives have been well publicised over the past couple of years, and even before lockdown measures, they presented serious competition to their land-based rivals.
When traditional facilities such as Casino Nova Scotia and Halifax Bingo were forced to close their doors, it is natural that gambling enthusiasts turned to cyberspace. The online gaming companies enjoyed a bumper few months, but gambling over the internet carries risks. For those who don’t know when to stop or are liable to chase losses, that laptop or phone can be a little too convenient. Online casino experts like Casinoblox have been at the forefront of keeping gamers informed and placing an emphasis on responsible gaming.
Innovations like live gaming, where players can enjoy an online game operated by a real dealer on a webcam, have brought an extra level of realism to playing in cyberspace. In an environment where many are still reluctant to go out unless necessary, it presents a challenge to local casinos as they look to welcome gamers back through their doors.
An emphasis on safety
Casino Nova Scotia serves as a prime example of how the city’s casinos are first and foremost looking to reassure visitors that it is safe to return. Take a look at their website and before you even see the home page, you are greeted with information on the health and safety measures that are in place.
These include reducing the number of guests at any one time, social distancing measures, mandatory face coverings and the installation of sanitising stations throughout. The casino has also opted for a phased relaunch, initially focusing only on slot games and not reopening table games like roulette and blackjack, where players are inevitably in closer proximity to one another.
It’s a similar story at the Halifax Forum, where bingo nights are taking place five nights per week. Again, numbers are reduced, while masks and sanitisers are a must. If you want to try your luck, booking is recommended, although walk-ins are accommodated as long as there is capacity.
Challenging times ahead
The biggest problem faced by the likes of Nova Scotia Casino and Halifax Forum Bingo is that the essential safety measures erode those very advantages that they hold over their online alternatives. People choose a night at the casino or bingo hall to socialise with friends, and to factor in a few drinks and a meal.
Right now, the bars and restaurants remain closed and the social aspects are, by necessity, reduced. These restrictions will certainly remain throughout what could be a long winter for the industry. It could be that their marketing teams will need to take inspiration from their online competitors and look to introduce the special promotions and free spins that are so common in cyberspace if they are to maintain the footfalls between now and spring.