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Nearly half of all casino tables back in operation

A total of 3,100 gaming tables have resumed operation since the reopening of casinos in February, representing 46% of the total number of tables.

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total of 3,100 gaming tables have resumed operation since the reopening of casinos in February, representing 46 per cent of the total number of tables.

On February 20, casinos in the region resumed their activities in phases after the Macau SAR government ordered a mandatory 15-day casino shutdown to combat the spread of Covid-19.

According to data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, up to March 9, a total of 38 casinos had reopened, with only one casino not presenting a request to resume activity, while two casinos remain closed, as they had been prior to the government’s order.

The bureau said that since the reopening, it has carried out several inspections in the casinos and has detected 28 cases of non-compliance with the Health Bureau’s guidelines, namely the distance and arrangement of gaming tables and seats, as well as the non-use of masks by customers in casinos.

Prior to the resumption of the city’s casinos, the government required gaming operators to adopt certain measures, such as filling out health declaration forms and the mandatory use of face masks.

The government also imposed body-temperature checks at casino entrances and an increase in space between gaming tables to avoid a large number of people from concentrating in a small area.

Macau casino operators were told to reopen at the stroke of midnight on February 20, unless they applied for a grace period if they considered themselves not ready to resume operations. Six casino concessionaires could apply to the government for a maximum of 30-day closure extension period during which time they will not be required to operate. After the extension period elapses, the casino operators are required to resume normal operations.

The closure of the casinos was one of the major reasons as to why the city’s gross gaming revenue last month tumbled 87.8 per cent from a year earlier, recording only 3.1 billion patacas.

Gaming analysts expect little improvement this month with brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd. forecasting that revenue may still plunge as much as 80 per cent.

Meanwhile, a note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein states that gross gaming revenue was 1.4 billion patacas through the first eight days of the month, down 79 per cent year-on-year. Assuming that travel restrictions are still in place by the month-end, Bernstein predicts the city’s revenue to tumble between 75 per cent to 85 per cent year-on-year this March.

Also cited in the note, Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Wynn Macau are outperforming their rivals due to their weight in the VIP sector. The research house states that the VIP segment is performing better during this outbreak period.

April’s gross gaming revenue performance will be influenced by several factors, including whether restrictions to issuing the Individual Visit Scheme permits for mainland residents to travel to Hong Kong or Macau will be lifted, as some expect. These restrictions have reduced the entry of tourists and gamblers from the mainland into Macau.

(Macau Daily Times/Macau News)
PHOTO © Macau Daily Times

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