Macau Casinos Worried About China’s Coronavirus Outbreak

  • Macau government says casinos may need to temporarily close to prevent virus spreading
  • Two people in Macau have been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus to date
  • Chinese New Year celebrations in the region have been canceled
  • City's six casino licensees have warned that revenue is likely to be negatively affected
people wearing face masks because of virus outbreak
Casinos in Macau have been warned that they may be forced to close due to China’s coronavirus outbreak, with licensees warning that revenue is likely to take a hit. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Casinos on high alert

The Macau government has warned its casinos that they may need to temporarily close to prevent China’s coronavirus spreading across the region. In response, the US-based owners of casinos on the island have committed to closing their facilities if things get any worse.

detected in two Macau patients to date

Concerns have been raised that the island could be a hotspot for an outbreak due to its popularity with tourists from mainland China and Southeast Asia. Chinese New Year celebrations usually begin on January 25, but celebrations for the Year of the Rat have had to be canceled.

This order was given by Macau Chief Executive Ho lat Seng. He has instructed residents to stay indoors and has deterred organizations from arranging any events, whether in a private or public setting. 

Known as the Wuhan coronavirus due to where it originated, this virus has been detected in two Macau patients to date. More than 800 people across the globe have contracted the deadly virus, resulting in 26 deaths so far.

Significant impact on revenue

New Year celebrations in Macau are always lucrative for gaming venues. As a matter of fact, this period is usually one of the best times for casinos in Macau to generate revenue.

Special offers are promoted at this time of year to attract people to the region to celebrate the New Year in style. There is usually a large influx of high rollers and VIPs at this time of year, who are big contributors to the casino coffers. 

Therefore, the coronavirus outbreak is not going to be good for the bottom line of casinos in Macau. Many of the casinos are now working closely with the authorities to decide on the best approach to take.

Ron Reese, a Las Vegas Sands spokesperson, said:

We are prepared to follow any additional protocols or guidance as they are made available.”

Two casinos in Macau are owned and operated by MGM Resorts, the MGM Cotai and MGM Macau. Both are beefing up their hygiene and security measures in a bid to protect members of staff and visitors.

A year of struggle

The past year has been somewhat of a struggle for the Macau casinos. They reported a 3.4% dip in gaming revenue in 2019, which was the first decrease since 2016. There has also been a decrease in the number of high rollers visiting the island, which has also contributed to the decline.

Due to the declining numbers, Macau is looking to diversify a bit more. It is placing more of an emphasis on its overall hospitality sector and creating a better environment for non-gambling tourists. 

After news broke of the coronavirus outbreak spreading to Macau and Ho’s statement, casino operators in Macau saw their share prices take a dive.