Coronavirus shuts Sands China hotels, HKJC betting offices


macau-casino-hotels-hong-kong-betting-offices-coronavirusCasino operator Las Vegas Sands is closing some of its Macau hotels due to the coronavirus-related shutdown of all local casino operations.

On Thursday, Macau authorities announced that they’d granted permission to Las Vegas Sands’ Macau division Sands China to close three of its hotels in the Cotai region on Friday. The affected hotels are the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, the St Regis Macao and Conrad Macao Cotai Strip, which collectively offer 1,459 rooms, around 11% of Sands’ total Macau capacity.

Macau hotels weren’t subject to the government’s recent order to close all gambling venues for two weeks to limit further spread of the coronavirus, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted Sands President Rob Goldstein telling Nevada gaming regulators that Macau hotel traffic was currently running at below 10% capacity, making their continued operations somewhat pointless.

Goldstein added that Sands’ shopping areas in Macau were equally deserted and the company had cancelled all in-house entertainment due to public fears over congregating in any enclosed space with other people.

While the affected hotels are reportedly still accepting reservations from February 20 onwards, Goldstein expressed concern that the planned 15-day casino shutdown might be extended if the virus shows no sign of containment. Goldstein said no one had any clue whether the closure would be two weeks or two months.

Across the water, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) announced this week that it had closed all 101 off-track betting branches to minimize the potential spread of the virus. The HKJC also temporarily suspended most of its telephone betting lines, apparently to allow workers to stay home, and urged race and sports bettors to make use of its digital betting options.

The HKJC announced Thursday that it would restrict access to its two racecourses starting Saturday. Only trainers, jockeys, HKJC officials, stewards, horse owners and their guests will be allowed through the gates, and even then only after undergoing temperature screening. The new restrictions are set to last for the following two weeks pending further updates.

The HKJC was forced to cancel a number of race meetings late last year due to the democracy protests that engulfed the city for months on end. Similar steps have not yet been taken in relation to the virus, but check back in a few days.