Macau casinos have been ordered to close for one week, causing gaming stocks to crash as the city battles its worst outbreak of COVID-19 to date. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Worst outbreak ever
With the COVID-19 situation in Macau reaching crisis point, authorities have ordered all casinos to close across the Special Administrative Region (SAR). The move caused the shares of casino center gaming companies to crash.
Ordered more than 40 casinos in Macau to suspend operations
Macau CEO Ho Iat-seng has ordered Macau’s 40+ casino to suspend operations for one week starting Saturday. Only supermarkets, healthcare facilities, and restaurants selling fast food may currently operate in the area.
Adding to the uncertainty for Macau investors, neighboring Hong Kong is considering adopting China’s strict COVID-19 health code system. Hong Kong’s new health minister, Lu Zhong Mao, said RTHK “People who are infected should not be free to go anywhere they want and affect our health,” Monday’s broadcast said.
Sharp falls everywhere
Shares in all six gaming giants operating in Macau fell on Monday. according to ReutersLas Vegas Sands subsidiary Sands China suffered the largest drop of 9%. Shares of Melco International, Wynn Macau, MGM China and SJM Holdings fell between 6% and 7%.
Although more than 90% of Macau’s population has received at least two vaccines, the Syrian Arab Republic has recorded 1,526 cases of coronavirus since mid-June, with about 19,000 people now in mandatory quarantine. This is the first encounter in Mecca with a highly contagious Omicron variant.
The lifeline of Macau
Casinos are vital to Macau’s economic growth and employment, which is why authorities allowed them to continue operating while movie theaters, bars and other public places began closing in late June.
More than 80% of government revenue”
Hu said in the past that closing all Macau casinos would “affect many employees”. according to ReutersThe gambling industry employs most of the population “directly and indirectly and accounts for more than 80% of government revenue”.
Even at the height of the first wave of COVID-19 in Macau in February 2020, casinos were only closed for 15 days.