All fourteen Ontario casinos operated by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited remain shut down thanks to what the company is now describing as a cyberattack. The problems began Sunday, April 16, but the company did not initially disclose the cause.
While a fix is underway, there is currently no timeline for reopening.
Casinos are a frequent target for cybercriminals because of the amount of money moving through them and their reliance on technology. If a modern casino’s management platform goes down, slots will stop working, dealers won’t know which tables they’re supposed to attend, and management can’t keep tabs on players’ activity. At least five such attacks occurred in the US in 2021 and 2022.
Typically, the attackers seek a ransom to restore functionality in such cases. However, there have been examples of attacks with a political motive.
No Info on Whether Player and Employee Data is Safe
Over a day after Gateway abruptly shuttered Wasaga Beach, Casino Rama, and its other Ontario casinos due to a “system-wide IT outage,” the company confirmed it suffered a cyber attack.
In a brief statement issued Monday night, the company said its Ontario casinos would “remain closed in the coming days” while IT systems are restored.
According to the statement:
Over the weekend, we detected a cyber security incident and closed our operations in Ontario. We have retained third-party cyber professionals who are working 24/7 to help us restore the IT environment.
At this time, it remains unclear if customer or employee data was compromised during the breach.
“Our upmost [sic] concern is the protection of personal data and information,” noted the release.
At this point, we do not have any information indicating that this incident involves any compromise of personal data. However, we are in the process of notifying the relevant privacy officials and gaming regulator of the incident.
Fortunately, Gateway’s properties in British Columbia and Alberta appear unaffected.
Union Concerned About Impact on Gateway Casino Employees
This is the first IT shutdown Gateway has experienced since it began operating in Ontario more than five years ago.
Rob Mitchell, Gateway’s director of communications and public affairs for Eastern Canada, said Gateway’s entire network of Ontario casinos remains closed as a precaution.
“We’re erring on the side of caution to make sure everything is operational,” Mitchell said, according to the London Free Press.
To that end, the company statement commends stakeholders and asks for continued patience from customers, employees, and regulators as work to reopen its Ontario casinos continues.
We appreciate the continued patience of our employees, customers, and government partners as we work to reopen our properties in Ontario, and will continue to provide further updates to the public regarding our reopening.
However, an internal Unifor Local 1090 memo obtained by OrilliaMatters indicated the union is concerned about the attack.
As OM reported, the union memo states:
It is the union’s position that Gateway take appropriate action to protect our members from any potential impact from this breach whether information has been taken or not.
Nearly Half of Gateway’s Canadian Properties Affected by Closure
Gateway is one of Canada’s largest gambling operators, with properties in BC (15), Ontario (14), and Edmonton, AB (2).
Gateway’s Ontario properties include the casino at Western Fair District and Casino Rama Resort.
All bets are off at Western Fair, Casino Rama, and across Gateway’s twelve other Ontario properties until further notice:
- Cascades Casino North Bay
- Cascades Casino Chatham
- Gateway Casinos Clinton
- Gateway Casinos Innisfil
- Gateway Casinos Sarnia
- Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie
- Gateway Casinos Sudbury
- Gateway Casinos Thunder Bay
- Gateway Casinos Woodstock
- Playtime Casino Wasaga Beach
- Playtime Casino Hanover
- Starlight Casino Point Edward
Update (May 4, 2023)
Three weeks later, most of Gateway’s properties have reopened, though at least one – Casino Rama – is still closed.