COVID-19: Australia’s Casinos Go on Mandatory Shutdown

  • Government demanded the closure of casinos and other establishments on Sunday night
  • Crown confirmed on Monday that it would cease its gambling activities
  • Tabcorp's betting shops could also face shutdown as hotels and pubs are no longer open
closed neon sign
The Australian government ordered casinos and other non-essential services to close their doors to the public in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. [Image: Shutterstock,com]

Closure expected to last six months

The Australian government has ordered “more widespread restrictions” in an attempt to stave off the threat of the coronavirus, including asking casinos to shut their doors.

In a new ruling on Sunday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison detailed that all non-essential services such as food outlets, bars, clubs, casinos, gyms, and places of worship were to close in order to combat the spread of the disease.

For casinos such as Crown and Tabcorp, this will mean a shutdown of land-based gambling facilities which is expected to last for the next six months.

Crown facing “unprecedented challenges”

Crown Resorts’ CEO Ken Barton spoke out on the complex circumstances resulting from the pandemic. He said,

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for Crown and many others in Australia.”

Crown Resorts, which operates in both Melbourne and Perth, currently has over 18,500 people working across Victoria and Western Australia.

The Crown Casino in Melbourne previously faced heavy criticism from Labor politician Anthony Byrne for staying open amid the COVID-19 crisis. However, Crown Resorts confirmed on Monday that it would cease its gambling activities while continuing to provide hotel accommodation in a reduced capacity.

Crown had already taken measures to implement social distancing before the Australian government announced a mandatory shutdown for casino establishments. It had introduced additional cleaning regimes and shut down every second poker machine.

Crown estimates that around 4,000 small businesses that provide it with goods and services could also be affected by the shutdown. Meanwhile, casino operator The Star Entertainment Group has yet to comment on the recently announced measure.

Retail sports betting also struggling

Tabcorp, Australia’s largest individual gambling operator, has also warned that TAB betting shops could close permanently. This is because hotels and pubs, where its gambling machines are located, are now closed off to customers.

Tabcorp employs 5,000 people across the country. It receives around 28% of its revenue from licensed venues and TAB agencies.

The company has asked its retail customers to use digital alternatives where they can. As convenience stores are not named in the shutdown, lottery products are still open and tickets can still be sold.

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