A little over a fortnight ago, casino in the Chinese territory of Macau closed shop in a bid to give room and time for efforts to combat the recent Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The 15-day mandatory shutdown period finally came to an end and some 29 gambling facilities moved to quietly reopen their doors.
Unsurprisingly, not much activity has been reported in the city with the establishments that have since reopened their doors having very few visitors. In the reopened gambling establishments, the people who visit sit far apart under very strict measures and rules that are meant to prevent the spread of the virus. Anyone who wishes to enter into casinos has to comply with a new set of regulations including the compulsory wearing of face masks as well as other health directions.
Bracing for Harder Times
Needless to say, the city’s economy has already taken a huge hit due to the outbreak and the mandatory shutdown made it even worse. Unfortunately, things are not about to get any better. According to a number of casino executives and residents of Macau, the business will still be on a slowdown. Gambling and hospitality are the core economic drivers in Macau with nearly all other businesses in depending on them. As such, everyone is going to feel the pinch.
To put this into perspective, Macau reported that as of last week it has seen a 98 percent drop in the number of daily visitors to just about 2,000. This has been due to a number of factors including the suspension of individual travel and the cancellation of ferry services. All this has been a big blow to the city’s revenue streams – 80 percent of this was from the casino operators.
Experts have confirmed that even with the reopening of some of Macau’s casinos, gaming revenue will decrease by over 80 percent this month and by at least 50 percent in March year on year. Despite this, one of the casino executives that reopening was the right move
“It is wise to open a little bit, even if business is slow. The government wants us to open because it signals a sign of stability for Macau.”
One thing is for sure – with all that is going on, the decision made by the casino executives is very brave.
Some of the most important steps forward include better measures for the prevention of the spread of the virus – most of these are already in place. Some other issues that will also need to be addressed include employee concerns regarding possible infections, layoffs, and pay cuts. Casino employees were bound to also feel the pinch brought about by the significant revenue drops but a framework is required in order for them to get back to work.
Labour will be vital to the revival of Macau’s activities over the coming months. As such, the casino operators are, hopefully, already preparing to give clarification on the way forward with regards to work and salary arrangements.