Casinos in Macau reopen today after being closed for two weeks because of the coronavirus epidemic, but all punters and croupiers will have to wear masks at the tables.
The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said yesterday that only 29 casinos will resume operations, with 12 remaining closed. The gaming regulator has imposed strict rules for casinos including temperature checks, mask protection and health declarations for staff and guests.
Only half the tables on a casino floor are permitted to be open to ensure adequate distance between people. Patrons are not allowed to stand or congregate, says a government notice. Each baccarat table, which normally seats seven people and dozens of boisterous onlookers, will be allowed only four players.
"It is wise to open a little bit, even if business is slow," said a senior Macau casino executive, who could not be named due to company policy. "The government wants us to open because it signals a sign of stability for Macau."
Operators including Wynn Macau (1128), Sands China (1928), MGM China (2282) and Galaxy Entertainment (0027) said they will reopen in phases. They have 30 days to open fully according to a government mandate.
Casinos say they are bleeding between US$1.5 million (HK$11.7 million) and US$2.6 million on a daily basis to keep their staff on payroll and maintain contractual obligations.
Analysts and executives predict that even with the reopening of casinos, gaming revenue will drop at least 80 percent in February and 50 percent in March year on year, with the sector likely to take weeks to get back to normal.