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Coronavirus Rocks Macau Casino Industry

Mia Gardner | 27 Feb 2020

Usually bustling with millions of visitors hoping to enjoy good luck at Baccarat and other gaming tables, Macau is bracing itself for grim days ahead. The Asian gambling capital is another victim of the coronavirus epidemic, and some casino operators think that recovery will be arduous.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment is one of those operators. Speaking in a conference call available as a transcript online, Melco COO David Sisk said that the number of visitors arriving in Macau has been much lower than usual, even though most of the region’s casinos are open.

Sisk add that his company would try to minimize its costs, even though doing so would not prevent the impact the coronavirus will have on revenues in the coming months. He went on to predict that, presuming the outbreak will be contained within the next four to six months, children in China would need to catch up on missed schooling during July and August. Those are traditionally holiday months, and if Sisk’s prediction is correct, Macau will not see much improvement in visitor numbers.

Virus Will Beat The House

President of Studio City Property, Geoff Andres shared Sisk’s dismay at the trickle of players arriving at Macau’s casinos. He revealed that only 10 players arrived at Studio City when it re-opened.

His company’s City of Dreams casino fared only slightly better. Andres said between 10 and 12 players were there when it re-opened. He added that he left the venue at 2am the following morning, there were only 20 players gambling.

Andres elaborated that, if the trend continues as he suspects it will, the region’s casinos will have days on which they make a loss.

Development Also Affected

In response to a question from Bank of America analyst Billy Ng regarding the construction of a new casino resort in Macau, Melco CEO Lawrence Yau Lung Ho said he expected it to slow down. According to Ho, most construction workers are from mainland China, where millions of people are faced with travel restrictions or quarantine measures.

Ho added that the industry also should expect government approvals for new casinos and resorts to slow down. He explained that the autonomous region’s government, like that of the mainland, was committed to containing the spread of covid-19, as well as to finding a cure for it.

Like the other casino executives who participated in the conference call, Ho’s outlook for Macau’s future is not positive. Although the Hong Kong-born businessman is hopeful that the coronavirus will be contained, he expects the region to be quiet for a long time.

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