Almost all countries in the world are worried because of the coronavirus plague that first hit the mainland of China. About two weeks back, a case of suspected coronavirus was reported on the SAR of Macau, raising fears that the epidemic may have found its way into the Island.
On Saturday, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau released figures on the revenue and earnings of casinos in Macau in the month of January and it wasn’t good news. According to a report by CalvinAyre.com, the figures show a double-digit decline from the same period last year. Now after looking at the various potential triggers to this loss in earning, experts say there’s no doubt the Coronavirus outbreak is behind this.
In the month of January, the casinos in Macau generated total revenue of $2.76 billion, an 11.3% decline from the same period last year.
Also, the month of December did not perform well. Revenue earned in December 2019 went down by a whopping 13.7%.
December’s dismal earnings were attributed to the visit of the president of China, Xi Jinping. This visit triggered the issuing of travel restrictions from the mainland, causing a decline in the number of gamblers visiting the Island.
Trouble for January began with the coronavirus epidemic, with casinos claiming that in the first 21 days of the year business was really good. Even with the Lunar New year celebrations in Macau, the gambling industry has not been able to attract as much traction as it does during the same celebrations in previous years.
The plague has not only depressed travel to Macau, but it has also caused a decline in the number of gamblers visiting casinos. Currently, casinos are operating at 20% capacity. Analysts have already predicted that the current state of affairs will cause the total revenue for the year to go down by not less than $2 billion. This is assuming the situation remains the same and does not accelerate.
Last week, an activist group representing Macau casino workers, sent a letter to the government asking that it closes down all casinos in Macau for at least 14 days. This will not only protect the workers from the virus, but it will also go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease. In the letter, the group questioned why casinos were still being allowed to operate yet other public services such as banks and schools had been closed down.
But the government has not just been watching on the sidelines. A few weeks ago, the government issued a directive requiring all casinos to fit their facilities with temperature sensors so as to be able to screen anyone getting in and out of the premises.
On Sunday, the local government went a step further, requiring that all gamblers and staff put on medical masks. Anyone who admits having traveled to the province of Hubei in the past two weeks, should not be allowed into Macau casinos.