Posted on: June 27, 2022, 7:19 a.m.
Last update: June 27, 2022, 10:40 a.m.
The little foot traffic in Macau’s casinos over the past week is likely only to get thinner. This is after local authorities implemented additional precautionary measures against COVID-19.
Macau has managed to keep the coronavirus outside its borders for most of the pandemic. But that changed last week when the region experienced its first major outbreak since the start of 2020.
China’s Special Administrative Region (SAR) has registered 475 new cases of COVID-19 so far, June 27. The local outbreak was first detected on June 18.
Health officials reported 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 non-essential businesses have been ordered to close, including bars and food services at restaurants, cinemas, gyms, salons and government buildings, Macau is allowing its casinos to try to pursue some kind of activity.
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 difficult to enter
Macau’s casinos remain open and staff members are on duty, despite the insufficient number of customers in the gambling halls to justify such operations. The six concessionaires are nonetheless acting as if it were business as usual in order to satisfy the wishes of the local government to minimize the financial damage caused by the public labor levies.
The casinos are adhering to the SAR’s wishes to maintain some sense of normalcy to stay in the government’s good books as their new 10-year gambling licenses are due to be issued by the end of the year.
Amid the initial surge of new cases last week, Macau ordered casinos to reinstate various protective measures against the pandemic, including the mandatory taking of every guest’s body temperature before entry. Customers are also required to complete a health declaration confirming they are not currently ill or suspect they may have recently been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, Macau yesterday expanded the casino entry process to include “valid nucleic acid test” results. Before a person can be allowed to play, the person must present casino security with a negative coronavirus test result obtained within the last 48 hours.
People entering casinos should cooperate with anti-epidemic prevention measures to reduce the risk of spread,” the Macao Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said on Sunday.
The region’s gaming regulator added that it will increase its inspections of outbreak prevention protocols in the coming days.
Macau casinos being required to re-implement these restrictive entry measures will likely further delay the recovery. Macau was the richest gambling market in the world before the COVID-19 pandemic. With casinos tightening access again, revenue projections will continue to decline for the remainder of June and into July.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein forecast last week that gross gaming revenue in June would be just 9% of casino earnings recorded in June 2019.
Despite Monday’s news that casinos must now obtain negative test certificates from players seeking entry, shares of US-listed Macau casino operators opened mixed today during morning trading.
Melco Resorts rose 1.75%, while Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts were flat. Wynn Resorts was down one point.