1. Crown Casino closes half its poker machines to stem coronavirus spread
One in every two poker machines will be deactivated at Crown’s casino in Melbourne’s Southbank, and gamblers will not be allowed to sit side by side while playing table games, as the James Packer-backed gaming giant implements social-distancing measures to curb coronavirus.
Coinciding with the Victoria government’s declaration of a state of emergency on Monday to step up efforts to slow the outbreak, the nation’s biggest casino operator said it had set tough new rules for gamblers at its flagship casino complex. But unlike major casinos in Las Vegas that have decided to temporarily close venues to help arrest the spread, Crown intends to remain operating.
The new measures include deactivating every second poker machine and electronic table game, distancing at seated table games between players and restricting the number of players at each stand-up table game to five players.
Bars, restaurants, ballrooms and conference facilities at Crown’s sprawling casino and hotel complex will be limited to 450 people, Crown said on Monday.
2. Macau travel restrictions to ease
The Macau SAR government is considering easing travel restrictions for tourists coming from mainland China as the Covid-19 situation on both sides of the border is improving. Recently, there has been a decline in coronavirus cases in mainland China – where the virus originated – while the number of cases outside of the country has surged. “The current situation of Covid-19 in mainland China is easing, infection numbers in many provinces and cities have not increased for many days, so we are evaluating the current policies towards mainland China,” a representative of the local health authority said.
3. MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts to temporarily close their Las Vegas properties
MGM Resorts International said Sunday it will temporarily suspend operations at its Las Vegas properties due to the continuing spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. Casino operations will close on Monday, followed by hotel operations. The closures at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, New-New York, CityCenter, Park MGM, Bellagio and The Mirage will take full effect Tuesday.
“Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said in a statement.
This is a time of uncertainty across our country and the globe and we must all do our part to curtail the spread of this virus,” Murren said. “We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it safe to do so and we will continue to support our employees, guests, and communities in every way that we can during this period of closure.”
On Saturday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to temporarily suspend operations at the state’s three casino properties, including Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield. The properties closed Sunday.
On Friday, MGM closed MGM Northfield in Ohio, which is just outside Cleveland and Maryland’s governor ordered the shutdown of the state’s six casinos on Sunday, including MGM National Harbor.
MGM Resorts said early Saturday morning that it was closing the Empire City Casino outside New York City through March 28. Last week, the company closed the adjacent Yonkers Raceway after John Brennan, a worker with the Standardbred Owners Association, contracted the virus and subsequently passed away. The 69-year-old Brennan was the state’s first death from COVID-19.
4. USA has 13 states now with casino closures
Maryland became the latest state to force a shutdown of its casino industry over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus when Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency order Sunday morning.
Including Maryland, 13 states – Nevada, Michigan, New Mexico, California, Alabama, Rhode Island, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York – have now taken actions to either suspended casino operations or place limitations on crowd size in places where it is, to this point, financially prohibitive to not remain open.
In Nevada, Wynn Resorts announced late Sunday it would close Wynn Las Vegas and Encore voluntarily for two weeks, becoming the first company to shut down casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
In California, Michigan and New Mexico, tribal leaders have independently decided to close their casinos.
On Sunday, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians voluntarily closed the Wind Creek Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and the tribe’s two properties in Alabama, Wind Creek Atmore and Wind Creek Montgomery.