India’s largest casino operator Delta Corp is reeling after the two states in which it operates ordered the closure of all casinos to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Delta Corp’s shares fell 9% during Tuesday’s trading on India’s National Stock Exchange, closing at Rs77.95. The stock was trading at Rs124 as recently as last Wednesday and was worth Rs241 one year ago this week.
This latest plunge came as the company announced Tuesday that its Casino Deltin Denzong in the state of Sikkim had been ordered to close, effective immediately, until at least April 15 to reduce opportunities for further spread of the coronavirus. The closure order impacted all casinos in the state, along with cinemas, discotheques and fitness clubs.
Sikkim’s order followed a similar edict this weekend in the state of Goa, where Delta operates three floating casinos and one land-based gaming venue. The order, which took effect Sunday at midnight, required all casinos in the state to remain closed until at least March 31.
India has so far been spared a major coronavirus outbreak and Goa has so far recorded only two confirmed cases, one of which was a Russian tourist. But on Tuesday, Goa’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane publicly mused about shutting the state’s borders to outsiders to ensure no further infections occur.
If the borders are sealed, then Goa’s casinos would have had to shut regardless, as the state officially forbid local residents from gambling in casinos as of February 1. Without international tourists, casinos would have had to rely on ex-pats and residents of other Indian states who are already within Goa’s borders for customers.
For the time being, Delta’s fortunes will have to rely on its new casino in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, which just opened its doors last month, as well as Delta’s non-gaming hotel operations in Daman, and its small but high-margin online gambling segment.
Ironically, Delta started the month off with some good news, as local media reported that Goa’s Captain of Ports Department had granted in-principle approval for the company registering a new larger vessel to replace its Deltin Caravella floating casino. The transition still requires the home department approving the gaming license transfer, that is, assuming there’s any gaming industry left in Goa by that time.