The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on daily life expands every day, affecting almost every industry in the world. One of the most negatively affected one is the gambling industry, mostly because of the recommendations to avoid large social gatherings.
Like many other countries in the world, Australia has also banned the entry of all Chinese travelers as a measure against coronavirus spread on February 1, 2020. Since Chinese make up 20% of all inbound tourism in Australia, according to the Australian Financial Review reports, the number of visitors and gamblers have significantly decreased, since Chinese tourists are popular casino lovers.
In fact, statistics from Tourism Research Australia show that one out of ten Chinese tourists was involved in any gambling activity in Australian casinos, spending around $40 million.
That’s why the travel ban on people entering Australia through China has negatively affected the casino industry in Australia, as True Blue casino reports.
One of the most attractive gambling destinations in the world, Macau, has already went through this, while several states in the USA have closed down their operations for different periods of time.
When it comes to the casino-friendly country, Australia, there has been a completely different approach. The casinos in the country have decided to make an unexpected move instead of completely closing their operations.
Since the shares of casino operators went tumbling amid the coronavirus crisis, they started to worry not only about the risks that the pandemic poses, but also about their gambling revenues.
The two largest gaming groups in Australia, Star Entertainment Group and Crown Resorts, decided not to close down their businesses, but to go with social distancing measures. Since the safety and health of people is their priority, specific measures were taken to fight the potential impacts on their facilities and resorts.
They turned off every second electronic machine in order to keep people apart. What’s more, they limited the numbers of gamblers that can play at different gambling tables. The number of people at stand-up table games was restricted to five.
Generally, the total number of customers visiting their facilities and resorts will also be restricted. Other measures implemented in the Crown casinos in Perth and Melbourne include more frequent cleaning and availability of hand sanitizer, says Nasdaq.
For example, the plan of Crown Resort is to restrict the number of customers visiting its conference and banqueting facilities to 450 people. That’s because the Australian government warned about gatherings that consist of more than 500 people.
According to Australian casinos, other ways their customers can keep safe while playing slots or table games include washing hands, avoiding standing or walking too close to other people and keeping one meter apart, avoiding touching their own faces, wearing masks, washing clothing after visiting a casino, avoiding visiting a casino if they are sick, and playing online.
The “social distance” measure was adopted by other countries as well, halting religious, cultural, and sporting events.
Crown Resort shares were down 9.5 percent on the country’s stock exchange, so closing its casino in Melbourne would be catastrophic for the huge gambling brand in Australia which reported a significant drop in gambling turnover from Chinese gamblers.
A Double Sided Pressure
The social responsibility of casino operators to help as much as possible in the prevention of the virus spread is very much expected. Even though they have taken many great measures to aid such efforts, it’s still unclear whether they are enough when it comes to COVID-19. The pressure to deliver on this end is constantly increasing as more and more casino operators in the world prefer full closures.
The decision to take safety measures instead of completely shutting down their facilities comes from the pressure the gambling industry faces when it comes to revenue delivery. The Star Entertainment Group and Crown Resorts have already noticed drastic impacts on revenue, so it’ll be really devastating for them if they shut down completely, The Gambling News reports.
However, no one knows if these measures will be enough to protect from the virus spread and whether they will pay off as hoped and expected. In case they don’t, the biggest gambling brands in Australia will be forced to implement additional measures, and this may even involve considering to shut down their facilities.