What little foot traffic Macau casino floors have seen over the past week will likely only become even more scarce after local officials implemented additional COVID-19 precautionary measures.
Macau managed to successfully keep the coronavirus outside of its borders for most of the pandemic. But that changed last week when the region experienced its first major outbreak since early 2020.
The Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) has counted 475 new COVID-19 cases as of today, June 27. The local outbreak was first detected on June 18.
Health officials reported that 96 new infections were confirmed on Sunday and another 175 today. In response, Macau is further tightening its entry procedures for people wishing to gamble.
While most nonessential businesses have been ordered to shutter, including bars and dine-in service at restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, salons, and government buildings, Macau is allowing its casinos to try and carry on with some sort of business.
Macau’s casinos are the backbone of the enclave’s economy. The gaming sector also employs the bulk of the local workforce.
Casinos Open, But Entry Difficult
Macau casinos remain open and staff members on the clock despite there being an insufficient number of patrons on the gaming floors to justify such operations. The six concession holders are nonetheless acting as if it’s business as usual in order to satisfy the local government’s wishes to minimalize the financial hurt the virus spread levies on the public workforce.
The casinos are adhering to the SAR’s wishes of maintaining some sense of normal in order to remain in the government’s good graces as their new, 10-year gaming licenses are set to be issued by the end of the year.
Amid the initial wave of new cases last week, Macau ordered that casinos reimplement various pandemic safeguards, including the mandatory taking of each guest’s body temperature prior to entry. Guests are also required to complete a health declaration confirming that they are not currently sick or suspect that they might have been in recent close contact with someone infected by COVID-19.
With COVID-19 numbers continuing to climb, Macau yesterday expanded the casino entry process to include “valid nucleic acid test” results. Before a person can be granted access to gamble, the individual must present casino security a negative coronavirus test result obtained within the past 48 hours.
Individuals entering casinos must cooperate with anti-epidemic prevention measures in order to reduce the risk of spread,” a Sunday statement from the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau read.
The region’s gaming regulator added that it will be increasing its inspections of epidemic prevention protocols in the coming days.
Macau casinos being required to reimplement such restrictive entry measures will presumably further delay the recovery of what was the world’s richest gaming market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. With casinos again tightening access, revenue projections will further decline for the remainder of June and into July.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein last week forecasted that June’s gross gaming revenue would be just 9% of the casino win experienced in June 2019.
Despite the Monday news of casinos now needing to obtain negative test certificates from gamblers seeking entry, shares of the US-traded Macau casino operators today opened mixed during morning trading.
Melco Resorts was up 1.75%, while Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts were flat. Wynn Resorts was down a point.
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