The Coronavirus is now having a damaging effect on the gambling industry in China, as it has been revealed that over 20 casinos will be shut down for the next two weeks. The news will come as a massive blow to the Chinese industry, as Macau is the hub of its gambling sector. Meanwhile, Australians will now be searching for where to spend their money playing pokies.
Macau made the announcement shortly after it was revealed that there had been a person with the virus in the former Portuguese colony. That was the tenth person that had picked up the illness in the local area. The decision comes after over 400 people have been killed by the virus in China. At the same time, it has also been spread to 20 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America.
Despite the closure of the casinos in the area for the next two weeks, the hotels and restaurants will remain open. That is down to the fact that there are already precautions in place to safeguard visitors at those establishments within the resort.
The announcement that the Macau casinos will be closing comes shortly after it was announced that there had been a 50% drop in the gross revenue recorded by the casinos in the area between January and March this year. The figures also showed that there had been an 11% drop in the number of visitors in the area for the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. That marks a decrease of nearly 80%.
The casinos aren’t the only form of entertainment that has been hit by the virus, with cinemas and nightclubs also closed down since the outbreak. Casinos in the area have given their staff a little rest bite; however, as they have admitted that they won’t cut their salaries or request their staff to take unpaid leave.
Figures have also shown the extent of the loss in revenue that will be suffered by the closure with the gross revenue likely to drop to around 75% year-on-year in January. Furthermore, it will shave off 6% in terms of GGR for 2020. As well as this, it was also revealed that the local industry would be set to lose $300 million for February, which is down from its pre-Coronavirus estimates of $700 million profit.
China To Legalise Online Gambling?
The recent outbreak and subsequent closures of the Macau casinos are likely to ignite the stories that China should re-evaluate its stance regarding online gambling. The experts have claimed that the outbreak has severely damaged the industry for Chinese players, over what should have been one of the busiest times of the year for the sector.
Players in China were unable to take advantage of the gambling attractions in Macau due to the threat of picking up the illness. Many players weren’t to be deterred by the threat though, and still wanted to enjoy their casino games, so many opted to sign up for illegal sites in areas such as the Philippines.
The number of players that have turned to the online casino scene has been staggering, as reports have shown that the number of online places has increased by 90% over the New Year celebrations compared to the number that was playing online in 2019.
Many of the experts were also alluding to the Chinese government to wake up to these stats, as many of the players will never return from their newfound sites. The same experts claimed that the only way for the industry to evolve in China would be through the passing of legislation to allow Chinese companies to flourish in the public domain.
Jason Eder, who is a member of the board for Las Vegas Sand Corporation admitted that it is a wake-up call, and they should legalize it, tax it, and allow the Macau licensees to participate. Otherwise, the business will be lost.