Macau orders all casinos closed over coronavirus concerns

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The government of Macau, the Chinese territory with the world’s largest gaming hub, has asked all casinos there closed for 15 days, because of fears of spreading coronavirus.

That move could have an impact half a world away in Las Vegas. Some of the biggest casino companies in Las Vegas make huge profits in Macau. This closure could have an impact on their bottom line.

For example, in 2018, the Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian, made 70% of its revenue in the Chinese enclave.

According to Bloomberg, the chief executive of Macau has ordered all 41 casinos in the former Portuguese colony closed for 15 days starting Feb. 5. The order came after two new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Macau casino workers. Mainland China has more than 20,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 400 deaths.

Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas released the following statement:

“Our greatest concern and our top priority is the health and safety of our employees, their families and the citizens of Macau.  We believe that our goals and the goals of the Macau government during this challenging period are fully aligned.  We support the Government’s decision to prioritize public safety and temporarily suspend the operations of all of Macau’s gaming areas, which we believe is in the best long-term interests of everyone concerned.  We will fully cooperate and comply with all government directives and recommendations.”

Wynn Resorts

Even before this closure, fears of the virus were keeping people away. By most estimates, tourism in Macau was down 80% last month.

Economist Albano Martins is based in Macau and says normally bustling casinos have been ghost towns in recent weeks. He said local streets are empty and it’s the first time he’s seen that in the nearly 40 years he has lived there.

“I think people are scared. Maybe scared because of the speed of these infections,” he said.

In addition to the financial hit local gaming companies could take, this closure exposes just how susceptible the tourism industry is to fears of the coronavirus.

It’s important to remember that there are still only 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States including California and Arizona but none in Clark County or Nevada.

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