Coronavirus force Casino giants to turn off gambling machines -- Daily Times Nigeria
Monday 16th March 2020
Australia's two biggest casino companies said they would shut off half their poker machines to force gamblers to engage in "social distancing" and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The measures showed the pressure on the tourism sub-sector operating amid a widespread shutdown of entertainment and sporting events as authorities limit public gatherings to curtail the spread of the illness.
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Casino companies already have reported a pinch in their businesses targeting wealthy tourists from Asia, known as VIPs, due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus.
Melbourne-based Crown Resorts, which is 37 per cent owned by billionaire James Packer, and Sydney rival Star Entertainment Group said they would keep gamblers apart by switching off every second electronic machine.
They said they would also restrict the number of players at gambling tables.
The two companies are licensed to operate a total of over 4,000 machines mostly in Sydney and Melbourne.
Crown also said it would restrict the number of people in individual conference or restaurant spaces to 450 people, while Star said it would limit the number of people to 500.
The Australian government has advised against non-essential gatherings of over 500 people.
Crown said its "social distancing policy" was approved by the chief health officer of Victoria state, while Star said its measures were in line with Federal Government policy.
According to Philip Russo, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, the measure taken by the companies was a minimum requirement.
"It will likely slow down spread, but more stringent social distancing would have a greater effect," he added in an email.
In Las Vegas, casino giant Wynn Resorts Ltd said it would close completely for two weeks due to the virus amid a broad rush of U.S. government and entertainment facilities shuttering amid the pandemic.