You know things are serious when casinos are closing. Whether or not you've been keeping tabs on the coronavirus outbreak, the fact that one casino let alone over a dozen in Macau will shut its doors is very serious. At least 500 reported deaths and 25,000 infected patients have been attributed to the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China. However, the widespread panic and fear that surrounds the coronavirus pushed Macau to do the unthinkable: shut down all casino operations for two weeks.
On February 5, casinos in Macau made the difficult, but wise decision to shut down for the next two weeks. According to a report from Bloomberg, "Casinos in Macau, the Chinese territory that's the world's biggest gambling hub, will close for 15 days as China tries to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus."
It takes a lot to shut down a casino. In "Shut Up and Deal" by Jesse May, he wrote about a blizzard that ravaged Atlantic City. Many gamblers were stuck and decided to ride out the blizzard by gambling.
A natural disaster, or "act of God" according to insurance companies, is one of the rare things that could shut down a casino. In 2018, Macau shut down its casinos for 36 hours when a deadly typhoon hit the area. That was the longest shutdown in Macau history... until now.
Hong Kong recently restricted travel to the mainland. China also stopped issuing visas to Macau and Hong Kong. With gamblers and tourists cut off from accessing Macau, it made sense to shut down the Asian gambling Mecca for two weeks.
Gaming industry experts, such as Sanford C Bernstein, think the 15-day shutdown could affect 2020 1Q profits to decline more than 50% from 2019 1Q profits. Yup, when it rains... it pours.
"This is indeed an extreme measure," said Angela Han Lee from China Renaissance Securities HK. "It is unlikely for casino operators to pass all this burden to staff, so they may bear all the fixed costs and expenses. Near-term profit might fall into the negative territory."
Shuttering casinos during a downswing is one of the worst things that could happen... then again, isn't human life more precious that quarterly profits from baccarat degens?
The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan Province sometime before the end of 2019. Chinese officials shutdown the entire city of Wuhan shortly before Chinese New Year to contain the deadly coronavirus. No trains, airplanes, or vehicles were allowed in or out. Residents who left before the city's shutdown were stranded when they tried to go home after the Chinese lunar new year holiday. It's Chinese tradition that family members will visit their hometowns and families during lunar new year celebrations.
Gambling is a popular past time and celebration during Chinese New Year. Many Chinese people are superstitious when it comes to gambling. Some people firmly believe that their fate is tethered to their luck factor or unlucky factor. Gamblers will save up their life fortunes only to make a pilgrimage to Macau. They'll gamble it up... all of it... with the notion that their fate will be determine by the gambling gods. If they're blessed, then they win. If they're born under a bad sign, or simply unlucky, then they'll lose.
For lunar new year celebrations, superstitious Chinese gamblers will gamble it up and their outcome will determine the rest of the year. In this instance, it's the Year of the Rat. Depending on New Year's gambling totals, an individual will know if they'll have a good or lucky year if they were profitable. On the flip side, people will prep for a bad year, or unlucky year, if they lose their first gambling session of the year.
Across China, people are working from home if that's possible. Perhaps this shutdown will push China to legalize online gambling?
The Triton Super High Roller series cancelled their latest stop in Jeju, Korea, which would be underway as we speak if not for the outbreak.