THE province’s government-run casinos are doubling down on new gaming technology.

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THE province’s government-run casinos are doubling down on new gaming technology.

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp. will introduce "stadium gaming" areas to casino floors, once COVID-19 pandemic health restrictions loosen and operations resume.

Patrons can expect a new take on classic games such as baccarat, craps and blackjack. Rows of table games positioned around a video screen, live dealer or a combination of both will replace some traditional felt-top stations.

"In some markets, having a number of pits with a number of different tables open, unless you’ve got the volume of players to support that, it’s hard to maintain that level of offering," said Paul Burns, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Gaming Association.

Traditional casino games that call for interactions between players and dealers will be put on hold for the foreseeable future, an MLL spokesperson said Friday by email.

Starlight Casino in Edmonton was the first in Canada to adopt stadium gaming, and many casinos across North America have already joined suit, Burns said.

Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton confirmed in a statement Friday that MLL had decided, even before the pandemic began, to introduce stadium gaming to its casinos.

He described the new technology as a "logical shift in the gaming industry" that meshes customer demand and the current public health environment.

Because of the new technology, there’ll be fewer people employed at Casinos of Winnipeg and the Shark Club Gaming Centre, which have been closed due to the pandemic since late October 2020.

Len Olafson, national representative for Unifor — the union that represents casino floor employees — confirmed 124 out of 150 employees whose jobs were affected by the switch accepted a voluntary severance package.

"To tell you the truth, we didn’t think that many would accept," Olafson said.

Many senior gaming floor employees, who’d been on the casino payroll for 10 years or more, likely had to think "long and hard" about whether to take the deal, with pensions to consider, he added.

The details of the severance packages have not been made public, but Olafson said the offers are "over and above" what the collective agreement outlined.

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