Canada’s Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. has officially confirmed that the company has been the subject of a cyberattack. All 14 of the company’s casinos in the province of Ontario were shut down starting with Casino Rama Resort which closed on April 16th. The casinos were hit with a ransomware attack that reportedly created an IT outage.
When Casino Ramma was shut down abruptly at about 1 p.m. CDT on Sunday the 16th, the company only said that an IT outage was to blame, not what caused the outage. All gaming operations were shut down with the company statement reading only: “Gateway casino sites across Ontario experienced a system-wide IT outage.”
Restaurants, Hotel Still Open at Casino Rama
The casino’s Instagram feed most recently stated: “Casino Rama Resort’s Hotel, Balance In Life Spa, Weirs, and St. Germain’s restaurants remain open. St. Germain’s is open Wednesday – Sunday.”
Very little more information was meted out over the next several days until Gateway announced the reasoning behind the closures on Friday, nearly a week later. The company now says that it has no knowledge of any confidential or private information being compromised. Investigation of the incident is still underway with many of the firm’s 7,000 employees being idled.
iHeart Radio was reporting on Friday that all casinos would remain shuttered indefinitely while cyber professionals do their work to reassure the integrity of the systems.
The Chris de Burgh concert scheduled for Friday was postponed until April 27. The Quiet Riot, Warrant, and Helix concert scheduled for Saturday was reset to October 7. All tickets purchased through My Club Rewards and Ticketmaster will be valid on the new dates. No mention of refunds was made. The event center st Casino Rama can seat up to 5,000 people.
The Friday announcement confirmed that a criminal breach had occurred and that all of the casinos would remain closed through the weekend at a minimum. As of Sunday evening, no change had been announced.
The company website still stated the following which was initially posted on Friday, April 21: “Gateway Casinos and Entertainment locations in Ontario will remain closed through the coming weekend as we continue to work on resolving a cybersecurity incident and put in place the plans for reopening at each location. While we cannot confirm a re-opening date at this time, we continue to work with all relevant parties to do everything we can to restore our IT systems, reopen our sites, and get our employees back to work.”
Not all cash has stopped flowing for the company however as 15 other casinos in different provinces remain open.
Catalyst Capital Group is the company’s majority stockholder and gateway manages the gaming venues for the respective provincial governments where they operate, sharing revenues with them which is used for the common good.
The company announcement also stated: “We want to reiterate that we have notified the relevant privacy officials, law enforcement, and government regulators about the cyber incident.”
30 Year History in Canada
Last year, Gateway celebrated 30 years of participation in the gaming and entertainment business in Canada. Casino Rama opened on July 31, 1996, and remained open continuously until forced to shutter operations during the world health emergency in 2020.
The company said it is working “with third-party experts” around the clock 7 days per week “to determine if there has been any impact on personal information in this case,”
Oddly enough, just a few days prior to the cyberattack, Global News ran an article warning of the increased risk of Russian cyberattacks on Canada in response to the country’s support of Ukraine. While there is no indication yet that Russian state actors are responsible for the most recent attack on a Canadian business it has been identified as a criminal hacking group and that ransom was demanded. Gateway has not confirmed or denied whether it paid and was hit anyway.
Pro-Russian groups have taken credit for several recent cyberattacks in Canada, including on Prime Minister Trudeau’s website and the websites of the Port of Québec and Laurentian Bank.
For a listing of all significant cyber attacks on Canadian government institutions and businesses, see the Kon Briefing (here).
Source: Gateway Casinos Confirms Cyberattack on Ontario IT Infrastructure, Casino.org, April 22, 2023