The Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) is responding to several complaints regarding casinos failing to enforce required health and safety precautions stemming from the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
Following a 15-day closure because of the current coronavirus that was first reported in Wuhan, China, Macau’s casinos reopened last week. But they did so with numerous safety measures aimed at keeping the deadly disease from spreading in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR).
The DICJ says it’s received numerous complaints from gamblers who say certain casinos are not abiding by the health safety protocols. The regulatory firm that governs the world’s richest gambling hub said over the weekend that it is continuing to monitor operations throughout the enclave.
Gaming analysts are forecasting that gross gaming revenue (GGR) could decline as much as 95 percent in February 2020 compared with February 2019. That would mean a loss of more than $2.8 billion in casino win.
Macau’s casinos were permitted to reopen under a serious of stringent conditions that remain in place.
- Gamblers must remain seated and cannot place bets standing
- At least one seat must be left vacant between two gamblers (applies to table games and slot machines)
- Only half of a casino’s table games are allowed to be in operation
Table game dealers must be stationed a minimum of 3.3 feet from players, and people are not permitted to stand behind gamblers. The agency said one of the health and safety complaints it received was because of individuals being allowed to stand behind table players.
Dealers continue to wear surgical masks. Patrons are also asked to wear masks, and those who do not can be asked to leave the premises. The DICJ is additionally requiring that casinos increase the frequency of their cleaning schedules.
Macau’s gaming industry is the enclave’s lifeline. At the end of last year, casinos employed 57,840 people. The gaming venues collectively offer 6,739 tables and 17,009 slot terminals.
The COVID-19 virus has infected nearly 79,000 people, with the overwhelming majority in China (77,042). The disease is responsible for the deaths of 2,462 people.
Macau is more than 500 miles south of Wuhan, but enclave officials remain on high alert in the enclave, as the disease is widespread throughout the mainland. Being a SAR in the People’s Republic, individuals must come and go through entry checkpoints, which so far has helped contain COVID-19.
Macau Health Bureau Director Lei Chin said closing the casinos was “highly effective” in stopping the spread of the virus.
Once the casinos closed, there was a significant reduction in the number of visitor arrivals to Macau, and tourists that were already here went back to their home places,” Lei told reporters.
Screenings remain ongoing for anyone wishing to enter the enclave. Health officials say the testing is delaying entries by as much as eight hours.
There have only been 10 reported cases of the current coronavirus in Macau. No one has died.