Coronavirus Shuts Down Macau Casinos, Other Venues Safe for Now

Coronavirus likely won’t affect the 2020 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, but the outbreak is hurting casinos in Macau.

The Venetian Macau

41 casinos in Macau, including The Venetian, have been forced to close for at least two weeks to curb the impact of coronavirus. (Image: IHG.com)

Following the cancellation of Triton Poker’s Jeju event, poker players have raised concerns about safety at other events.

While there are no current coronavirus-related threats in Las Vegas, some poker forum posters are questioning whether this summer’s World Series of Poker may be impacted by the outbreak.

WSOP Monitoring Coronavirus Outbreak

Seth Palansky, vice president of corporate communications at Caesars Entertainment, told the media it’s business as usual at the WSOP. But, with reports of the deadly virus spreading, he said organizers will be monitoring the situation.

The same can’t be said for casinos in Macau. As an island off Mainland China, Macau is at particular risk, with 10 cases of coronavirus already reported in the territory. This, combined with 425 confirmed deaths in Mainland China, has forced the government to act.

Ho lat-seng, chief executive of Macau, said in a Wednesday TV conference that all 41 casinos in the region will close for at least two weeks. The aim is to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the move couldn’t come at a worse time for casinos in Macau.

Of course this was a difficult decision, but we must do it for the health of Macau’s residents,” Ho lat-send said.

The latest financial report shows an 11.3 percent drop in year-on-year earnings in Macau. According to the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau’s report, revenue for January 2020 was 22.1 Pataca ($2.76 billion). That’s more than $30 million less than the 24.9 billion Pataca ($3.11 billion) Macau’s casino earned in January 2019.

A report by the Financial Times has also revealed that more than $18 million has been wiped off the market value of Macau casinos owned by Wynn, Sands, and MGM.

Door Close, Casinos Empty in Macau

Local media outlets in Macau report that falling visitor numbers have left casinos looking like ghost towns. The temporary closure will only compound the misery for local gaming operators.

Financial analysts at Sanford C Bernstein estimate the market could see a 70 percent year-on-year revenue slump if casinos remain closed until the end of Q1. Whatever, the outcome, it’s bad news for the Asian gaming hub.

Once a city that could do no wrong when it came to gaming and poker, Macau is in the midst of a downswing. With revenue slipping consistently over the last four years, a positive start to 2020 was needed. However, with coronavirus upsetting all industries, gaming in the region is set to lose millions, if not billions.

The recent news should serve as a warning to casinos and poker rooms around the world. Coronavirus may have originated in China, but it’s spreading. Along with confirmed cases in the US and the UK, the virus has been found in Australia, Germany, Italy, and beyond.

With a potential international pandemic looming, other poker rooms and events could still be affected by coronavirus.

Daniel Smyth
Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

Comments

acidburnfx wrote...

Meanwhile, China opens a hospital built in just 10 days for coronavirus and a day later, announces it will build a second even bigger hospital to treat patients. 2,300 new beds in less than twenty days. What a madness!

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