Macau Casino Closes as Fresh Wave of COVID-19 Grips City
As casinos in Macau gradually recovered from the pandemic’s devastating effects, a fresh wave of COVID-19 hits China’s Special Administrative Region, forcing the administration to shut down one of the major casinos in the city.
Macau authorities locked down SJM Holding Limited’s Grand Lisboa hotel, trapping 500 guests within the premises as the city battles one of the worst outbreaks in recent history. The shutdown directly results from over a dozen positive cases reported from the property on Tuesday.
The flagship gambling venue closed for the first time in over two years as infections quickly spread. And the shutdown will continue till July 11. Apart from the resort, the authorities locked down three floors of the Shoppes at Four Seasons shopping centre at Plaza Macao after a second cluster was reported. The rest of the resort is open for the time being.
Repercussions of the Latest Shutdown
The authorities are analysing the situation and will decide at an appropriate time. At the same time, the police are contemplating announcing a complete shutdown over the weekend. However, an official announcement is yet to be made, and there are no immediate plans for imposing stricter measures for now.
Share prices of SJM Holding in Hong Kong fell 2% on Wednesday. This isn’t unprecedented, as this is the first time a major casino has shut down in two years. The city is currently mass testing the population to try and contain the contamination.
Authorities are reportedly locking down residential complexes with more than one infectious household. Eighty-nine residents and two foreigners tested positive on Monday, bringing the tally up to 951 cases.
And while the numbers might seem insignificant, the sudden rise comes after months of virus-free life in Macau. Hence, the authorities are up on their feet to try and contain the infection before things get out of hand.
The outbreak could not have come at a worse time as Macau struggles with an economic crisis. The city is currently grappling with a shortfall of tourists due to mainland China’s zero COVID policy, discouraging international visitors and leading to a slump in gambling revenue.
Casino Revenue Takes a Significant Hit
Casinos are burning through millions of dollars every day as they stay open. And according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co estimate, most resorts have the liquidity to survive between nine and 24 months.
Most properties are operating with a limited staff, complying with the government’s request to work from home. Moreover, there are only a handful of guests at each property. This isn’t surprising since a single low-risk border with the mainland is currently open, while most of Macau’s neighbours have enforced strict quarantine measures at the borders.
Revenue projections for July look bleak at the moment. June was the worst month in earnings this year, and the authorities aren’t too hopeful for July. Macau’s economy depends on wealthy Chinese visitors, whose numbers have been steadily dwindling.
Category: Gambling industry