Macau’s gaming industry will reopen its doors Wednesday night after its 15-day shutdown by the government as part of the authorities’ fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to an announcement by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre during its daily press conference about the viral threat, 29 of the city’s 41 casinos will reopen at midnight (00:00 on Thursday).
Officials said the remaining 12 casinos had asked the government to reopen later. The government earlier this week gave Macau’s six casino operators (Sands, Galaxy, SJM, Wynn, MGM and Melco) 30 days to get back into business.
According to the press conference, the 12 casinos that will remain closed until further notice comprise Sands Cotai Central; Melco’s Altira; Galaxy’s Waldo, Rio and President; and SJM’s Oceanus, Eastern, Macau Jockey Club (a casino adjacent to the Macau Jockey Club racecourse in Taipa), Golden Dragon and Casino Taipa, as well as Macau Palace and Greek Mythology (both have not been operating for a number of years).
MGM and Wynn each own two casinos. The four casinos will open tonight.
The casinos were temporarily closed by government order on February 5.
The relaunch will be gradual, as initially less than one-third of the casino employees will return to work.
Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) Director Paulo Martins Chan pointed out during the press conference that initially only about one-third of the six operators’ gaming tables will be operational, about 1,800 in total.
The government has imposed a string of restrictions on casino operations, such as that only three to four gamblers will be allowed to gamble at the same time on a gaming table, and gamblers must remain seated.
All casino workers and gamblers must wear facemasks, have their body temperature checked and submit a self-filled health e-declaration when entering gaming premises.
In the past, several dozen gamblers often crowded around a particularly “lucky” gaming table and many preferred not to be seated while placing their bets.
Among the 12 casinos not opening tonight are two SJM-owned casinos – Macau Palace and Greek Mythology – that have not been operating for a few years.
At the end of last year, the gaming industry comprised 6,739 gaming tables and 17,009 slot machines. It employed 57,840 people, around 44 percent of them dealers (croupiers), according to data from the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC).
In 2019, Macau’s gaming and betting businesses generated gross gaming receipts of MOP 293 billion (US$36.6 billion), according to DICJ figures. Direct gaming taxes – 35 percent of the casinos’ gross gaming receipts – generated 86 percent of the government’s income in the first 11 months of last year, according to data from the Financial Services Bureau (DSF).
The Macau Jockey Club has been allowed to resume racing.
Meanwhile, the government also announced during today’s press conference that Macau’s public parks and gardens will reopen tomorrow after a 15-day shutdown.
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U pointed out that Macau has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case since February 4.
The 10 novel coronavirus cases confirmed locally comprise seven tourists from Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, and three local residents.
The sixth novel coronavirus patients was discharged from hospital today.
The government today also announced stricter border control measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in Macau.
For instance, Macau residents who cross the city’s border checkpoints three times or more a day will have to submit themselves to a medical examination.
The new border control measures take effect at 00:00 tomorrow (Thursday).
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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