Macao leader asks casinos to shut over virus fears

Daniel Fowler
February 5, 2020

Macao's more than two dozen casinos account for about half of the local economy and are hugely popular with Chinese visitors, generating over four times the revenue of those in Las Vegas.

In the United States, 11 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in California, Washington state, Illinois, Arizona, and MA.

The executive met on Tuesday with gaming concessionaires to discuss the suspension - which will include the Macau Jockey Club - but will not cover restaurants and other businesses outside the casino areas of integrated resorts. So far, 10 people have become infected in Macau.

Considering the fact that, for the time being, Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legally permitted, local casinos generate about 80% of the revenue in the region. All of them have promised not to force unpaid leave on their employees, according to a statement from the Macau government. Reportedly, the number of Macau visitors has suffered a sharp 80% decline in the past week.

He said he would meet gaming industry representatives on Tuesday afternoon and announce precise timings soon after.

Macau hasn't cut its land boundary with mainland China.

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"Assuming only a two-week shutdown followed by some soft business resuming in late February and March, Q1 could show GGR year-on-year decline of 50%".

He assured thatMacau is prepared to bear the economic losses that the temporary closure would entail, hinting at a rather hard year for the gaming sector ahead, Macau's main contributor to GDP, or some 80 percent of tax revenue. He added that, while there will be a fiscal deficit and a loss of gaming revenue for the fiscal year, there are enough tax reserves to help support the island's economy.

Brokerage Bernstein issued a note earlier on Tuesday, before the government confirmed full details of the casino closures, in which it painted a similarly grim picture. But Ho said that he was prepared to close some checkpoints.

Hong Kong Economic Journal also approached Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, boss of Macau-based junket brand Suncity Group for comment on the outlook for Macau.

He advised Macau residents to avoid going outdoors as much as possible, warning, "Don't go on the streets if not necessary".

Macau has told citizens not to go outside on any occasions except for food and to always wear protective masks. Don't be careless. Don't take it lightly, ' he said.

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