LONDON, ONT. -- For the first time in seven months London casino customers can play the slots at Gateway Casinos in the Western Fair District.

Gateway has finally reopened most of its facilities after being shut down in March at the outset of the pandemic.

Among the first to take their chances was Roger Matthew, who was hoping to get in even though he didn’t receive a special invite from the casino operator. “Try to win some money,” he said, adding that he had been waiting for this day for a “long time.”

Under COVID-19 protocols, the casino is only allowed 50 people inside at a time.

Further, it’s operating by reservation or invitation only.

“Our objective is to show that we can operate safely,” said Gateway Communications Director Rob Mitchell. “We can still provide an enjoyable experience. And hopefully the public health officials will look at what we’re doing and tell us we can expand, and we can have more people at our site.”

The reopening is for slot machines only, while gaming tables remain out of commission.

The reopening comes on the same day that casinos in covid-19 hot-spots of Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa have been ordered to shut down.

The London casino operator remains undaunted. “Most of the communities where we operate, there have been very few instances of covid infections,” said Mitchell. “I don’t think we need to be as concerned. We’re not Toronto, we’re not Ottawa, and we’re not Peel.”

About 300 people work at the London site. Mitchell said the majority of the workforce has returned.