Casino industry restarting in a new world

Wednesday 27th May 2020

Casinos across the world are gradually reopening with news coming through of enhanced hygiene regulations and some locations - notably in the US - where the first day back in business has seen queuing by guests keen to get into venues.

The picture, however, is very much one of tentative steps back to "normality," with widespread voluntary - but often compulsory - wearing of masks by guests, some temperature testing upon entry, reduced capacity even down to one-out-one-in procedures and hand sanitisers and wipe-downs for machines, plus some Plexiglass separations now common.

In Europe, betting shops in the UK reopen on June 15 - but only if there is no rise in infections - and in neighbouring Ireland, betting shops reopen on June 29. Casinos are reopening in South Korea this week, Las Vegas reopens next week, Finland is getting back into business... The picture is fairly common across the international spectrum.

But the fallout continues. Some reopenings are not coming in time. China's lottery sales were down 35 per cent in April; Italy is introducing a supplementary sports betting tax of 0.5 per cent to help sporting activities to recover; New Zealand's racing industry authority is cutting its staff by 30 per cent; Spain's gambling locations remain closed; Universal Entertainment in the Philippines is laying off over 1,000 staff; and in some US states slower to reopen than others, furloughing continues.

Big companies are suffering. The industry-leading Cirsa giant in Spain estimates that the pandemic is costing it €28m per month and major casino group Genting is widely expected to show a net loss of US$6.6m this year. The picture internationally, is changing each week, but what is already apparent is that the global industry is reawakening to a whole new way of working.

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