Singapore’s gaming industry in month-long COVID-19 lockdown


singapore-casinos-lottery-betting-coronavirus-shutdownSingapore’s entire gaming industry is going into a month-long hibernation as the government tries to minimize further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Friday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced that it was implementing an elevated set of safe distancing measures as a ‘circuit breaker’ to reduce further coronavirus transmission. Singapore recently reported a surge in new COVID-19 cases, most of which were deemed to be locally transmitted.

The new measures will take effect on Tuesday (7) and will extend at least through May 4. The city-state’s two integrated resort operators – Las Vegas Sands (Marina Bay Sands) and Genting Singapore (Resorts World Sentosa) – shut their gaming floors on Monday.

Sands said it had suspended all “integrated resorts services and operations” while Sentosa said its food services would remain open “for takeaway and deliveries” to ensure “necessary daily living needs of residents.” Both venues are cancelling room reservations booked for the shutdown period, while Sands is closing its hotel and doing its best to rehouse guests.

Singapore previously halted arrivals of foreign tourists – on whom the two casinos largely rely for customers – as part of its pandemic mitigation efforts. Monday brought word that Singapore’s Changi Airport is shutting its Terminal 2 for 18 months, suggesting that local authorities are convinced that pandemic mitigation measures will be required for much longer than originally anticipated.

Singapore’s lottery and betting monopoly Singapore Pools is also shutting its operations for the duration, and all lottery draws scheduled for the shutdown period have been cancelled. Furthermore, the company “will not be offering sports betting and wagering until further notice,” even online operations, “in line with the recent cessation of global sports and horse racing events.” The Singapore Turf Club is going dormant for the same reasons.

Last Friday, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced plans to form a new regulatory body that will unify oversight of all local gambling operations. The new Gambling Regulatory Authority is expected to be in place by 2021.