Coronavirus is the novel virus spread across the world. The virus was discovered in Wuhan, CHina back on December 31st, 2019. The virus quickly spread across the whole country. There are over 14,000 people infected and over 400 people killed due to the virus infection. The lethal rate of the virus is almost 3%, though all people who are infected are currently under the eye of doctors or in quarantine.
The virus has already affected many different sectors. Stocks have fallen and several major sectors, such as tourism and traveling have been shaken. Most of the flights in or from China are canceled. Citizens have the limited ability to move around the country, in order to prevent the further spread of the virus. If comparing the circumstances in China within this year, to the situation last year, the visitors’ rate has decreased by almost 75%. Previously streets full of joy and people are now empty with the fear.
Many industries have been affected. One of the major hits took the gambling industry. Macau is one of the major gambling cities in the world and to the mainlands of China, it has vital economic importance.
Affect to the gambling industry
As the coronavirus continued to spread freely throughout China and began making its way to other parts of the world, several casino-related companies stepped up to try to prevent things from getting worse in the hardest-hit areas. Meg-Star Group, a junket operator, and Melco Resorts and Entertainment came forward with sizable donations – about $3.84 million total – for the Hubei province in China, as well as the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan. As more precautions are being taken to further control the epidemic, additional companies in the gaming industry are stepping up, willing to make financial contributions to help support treatment and containment efforts in China.
Earlier this week, Galaxy Entertainment Group issued an announcement that it would donate MOP$25 million ($3.12 million) to the Hubei province and Macau. The money is being allocated from the company’s Galaxy Entertainment Group Foundation, with $2.49 million earmarked for Hubei and the remaining $624,500 going to Macau.
Joining the effort is Guangdong Group, a Macau junket operator. It is, through its Guangdong Charity Foundation, donating $1.3 million to Hubei and Macau in the form of medical and preventive supplies. It is also canceling public activities and will provide free face masks for all staff members in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading.
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A, better known as SJM, became the latest to give to the cause, allocating $2.49 million. Some of the funds are to be used for the purchase of medical supplies and protective gear, and the contribution was coordinated with China’s liaison office in Macau. Adds SJM chair Daisy Ho, “The donation carries with it our sincerest wishes for the Hubei people and for our Motherland. SJM stands firmly with the Macau SAR government and all Macau people in efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. We wish a speedy recovery to all people and all economies that are affected by the virus.”
While there is definitely a certain amount of altruism behind the donations, no one should be naïve enough to believe the contributions come simply because of civic responsibility. With the companies all having a lot to lose with slower activity in Macau, the donations will hopefully help the city bounce back quicker. The virus has already damaged economic recovery attempts in Macau tied to the Chinese New Year, and casinos in the city were ordered to shut down for two weeks a few days ago. If the borders close, which is still a possibility, the amount of money that stands to be lost could skyrocket and hurt Macau’s chances of recovering from last year’s weak performance.
The recovery is possible, once the city is able to open the casinos soon. Though, according to some experts, the epidemic will continue for two or three more months, which is a long period for the whole city. Hopefully, the visitors and the staff will be careful with the infection and will follow every guideline for specific health measures.
The closure of the casinos in Macau does not only affect the economy of China but the whole gambling industry, as it is one of the most important sources and contributes to the worldwide gambling market.