Coronavirus Shuts Macao, World’s Gambling Capital


It’s like closing the Las Vegas Strip, six times over.
Officials in the Chinese city of Macao last week asked its 41 casinos to close for half a month as they rush to stop the coronavirus outbreak afflicting China and the region. The move will shut down the world’s gambling capital, which could hit big American casino operators like Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands as well as the local companies that sustain the territory’s economy.
More than 10 people in Macao have been sickened by the pneumonia-like illness, among them a hotel employee at Galaxy Casino, one of the city’s busiest gambling establishments.
“Of course this was a difficult decision, but we must do it for the health of Macao’s residents,” said Ho Iat Seng, chief executive of the semiautonomous Chinese territory, in a televised news conference.
Wearing a blue face mask and a suit, Ho said the case of the hotel worker served as a warning that the virus was beginning to spread through the city. The worker had shared shuttle buses and the casino cafeteria with colleagues.
Gambling accounts for four-fifths of the Macao government’s revenue. But Ho said, “Macao can still bear these economic losses.”
The coronavirus has shaken companies and investors around the world who have come to rely on China for its efficient factories, its increasingly affluent consumers and its years of hard-charging economic growth. General Motors, Ford, Nissan and other auto companies have temporarily closed factories. Apple and Starbucks have closed stores.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s biggest local airline, on February 4 announced steep cuts to China flights and plans to pare back across its network. American Airlines suspended all flights to Hong Kong from Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles through February 20, citing low demand.
Most of China remains shut down by the coronavirus, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan and has sickened thousands of people in the country. The global economic outlook, the fortunes of major companies and the jobs of workers around the world could depend on how quickly they come back.
Macao makes a glittery and sometimes gaudy symbol of the world’s dependence on Chinese money. A former Portuguese colony that was returned to Chinese control in 1999, Macao is the only part of China that allows casino gambling.
As deep-pocketed Chinese tourists arrived in droves, Macao transformed into a thriving international hub for entertainment, fine dining and luxury shopping. Gambling companies have built vast casinos, illuminating the skyline of this once-sleepy city of just over 622,000 people with neon and spotlights. It offers everything that Las Vegas has – like a miniature Eiffel Tower – and more, like a gilded-dragon cable car that floats past dancing water fountains at the Wynn Palace.
Macao was bustling just three weeks ago as tourists from the mainland arrived to spend the Lunar New Year holiday at the city’s baccarat tables and Michelin-starred restaurants. “There were no signs of the epidemic anywhere,” said Wang Qian, who traveled with her parents to shop and see the sights.
When they visited the Casino Lisboa on January 21, employees took their temperatures. Still, when they left three days later, “I don’t think people took it seriously yet, but many started to wear face masks,” she said.
Macao also suspended basic public services, and Ho urged residents not to leave their homes except to get food. “This is not a holiday,” he said.
“It’s just mind-boggling. I’ve never seen anything like this in my 25 years here,” said Carlos Lobo, a lawyer and gambling consultant in Macao.
“This shows two things: The seriousness of the situation and the extreme measure that the government is taking to control the outbreak,” Lobo said.
Macao’s gross gambling revenue totaled $36.5 billion last year, a 3.4 percent drop from the year before but still about six times that of the Las Vegas Strip. In more recent years, the biggest American casino operators like Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Corp. have come to rely on their towering outposts in Macao.
The impact will be “devastating” in the short term, said Matthew Ossolinski, a gambling consultant and investor. He estimated that the two-week closure could shave between 5 and 15 percent off Macao’s gambling revenue this year. In late January, Chinese authorities began to take drastic measures to contain the outbreak. The shift coincided with Lunar New Year, the most lucrative time for Macao casinos, and the city has already seen visits drop by 80 percent, according to Fitch Ratings.
For weeks many casino floors, typically brimming with Chinese tourists, have been largely empty. Recent visitors described empty casino floors, worse than when China clamped down on the casinos to stop corruption by government officials.
Lobo, the consultant, visited some of the biggest casinos in Macao on February 3.
“I was like, ‘this is big,’ ” he said. “It’s like a ghost town in terms of patrons. It was surreal.”

Myanmar Summary

တရုတ်နှင့် ဒေသတွင်း နိုင်ငံများတွင် ကူးစက်ပျံ့နှံ့နေသော coronavirus ဖြစ်ပွားမှုကို ထိန်းချုပ်ရန်အတွက် ကြိုးပမ်းနေချိန်တွင် ကာစီနိုရုံများကို လဝက်ခန့် ပိတ်ထားရန် မက္ကာအိုရှိ ကာစီနို ရုံပေါင်း ၄၁ ရုံကို မြို့တော် အာဏာပိုင်များက ညွှန်ကြားလိုက်သည်။ ထိုညွှန်ကြားချက်ကြောင့် ကမ္ဘာပေါ်တွင် လောင်းကစားမှုများ အများအပြား လုပ်နေသော မြို့တော်လည်း ပိတ်သွားမည်ဖြစ်ကာ အဆိုပါ မြို့တွင် ကာစီနိုလုပ်ငန်း လုပ်ကိုင်နေသည့် အမေရိကန်‌ကုမ္ပဏီများဖြစ်သော Wynn Resorts နှင့် Las Vegas Sands တို့အပါအဝင် ပြည်တွင်းကုမ္ပဏီများကိုပါ ထိခိုက်မည်ဖြစသည်။

မက္ကာအိုတွင် အဆုပ်အအေးပတ်ရောဂါလက္ခဏာမျိုးဖြင့် ဖျား‌နာနေသော လူပေါင်း ၁၀ ယောက်ကျော် ရှိနေပြီဖြစ်ကာ ထိုအထဲတွင် မြို့တော်အတွင်း လူအဝင်အထွက် အများဆုံးသော ကာစီနိုရုံဖြစ်သည့် Galaxy Casino ရှိ ဝန်ထမ်းတစ်ဦးလည်း ပါဝင်သည်။

လောင်းကစားလုပ်ငန်းမှ ရရှိသော ဘဏ္ဍာငွေမှာ မက္ကာအိုအစိုးရ ဝင်ငွေ၏ ငါးပုံ လေးပုံရှိသည်။

Coronavirus ဖြစ်ပွားမှုသည် တရုတ်နိုင်ငံအပေါ် မှီခိုနေသည့် ကမ္ဘာတစ်ဝှမ်းမှ ကုမ္ပဏီများ၊ ရင်းနှီးမြှုပ်နှံသူများကို ထိခိုက်ခဲ့ရသည်။ General Motors၊ Ford၊ Nissan နှင့် အခြား မော်တော်ယာဥ် ထုတ်လုပ်ငန်း ကုမ္ပဏီများ ယာယီပိတ်ခဲ့ရသည်။ ထို့အတူ Apple နှင့် Starbucks တို့လည်း ၎င်းတို့၏ စတိုးဆိုင်များကို ပိတ်ပစ်ခဲ့ရသည်။

ဟောင်ကောင်၏ အကြီးဆုံးသော လေကြောင်းလိုင်းဖြစ်သည့် Cathay Pacific က တရုတ်နိုင်ငံသို့ ပျံသန်းနေသည့် ခရီးစဥ်များကို ရပ်ဆိုင်းခဲ့ပြီး အခြားကွန်ရက်များသို့သာ ပျံသန်းပြေးဆွဲရန် စီစဥ်နေသည်။ အမေရိကန် လေကြောင်းလိုင်းများသည်လည်း ဟောင်ကောင်သို့ ပျံသန်းနေသည့် လေယာဥ် ခရီးစဥ်များကို ရပ်ဆိုင်းခဲ့သည်။ တရုတ်နိုင်ငံ၏ နေရာအများစုမှာလည်း coronavirus ကြောင့် ပိတ်ထားခဲ့ရသည်။

SOURCEAlexandra Stevenson(The New York Times)
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