Coronavirus outbreak shuts Macau down but casinos remain open

by William Brown Last Updated
Coronavirus outbreak shuts Macau down but casinos remain open

A coronavirus outbreak across Macau has forced the cancellation of a public consultation session about proposed amendments to the city’s gaming law and shuttered non-gaming entertainment venues.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the consultation session was initially scheduled for October 9, but has been postponed.

It is the second time in the space of a week that a consultation session has been cancelled, after the first session, planned for September 29, was previously put on hold.

The latest postponement, announced via a statement from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, was one of a number of developments throughout the day after a 42-year-old Vietnamese non-resident worker was confirmed as Macau’s 75th COVID-19 case.

The work was linked to an outbreak of three cases reported on October 4 that saw the Government announce a third round of mass testing for all people in Macau.

Public entertainment venues close in Macau

A range of public entertainment venues have also been forced to suspend operations from October 6, including cinemas, theatres, indoor amusement parks, video game arcades, internet cafes, billiard and bowling rooms, sauna and massage establishments, beauty salons, gyms, health clubs, karaoke establishments, bars, nightclubs, discos, dance halls and cabarets.

Casinos are allowed to remain open, however Casino Oceanus, located near the ferry terminal on the Macau peninsula, has been closed for cleaning after being visited by a positive case last week.

SJM Resorts said it “fully supports the Macau government in combating and controlling the outbreak of the virus and strictly adheres to the disease-control measures stipulated by the government.

“In accordance with the Government’s prevention and control guidelines, Casino Oceanus is closed temporarily for disinfection works, while the gaming areas in the Jai Alai building and Hotel Jai Alai remain open as usual.

“SJM stands firmly with the Government and all Macau residents in efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus and to strive for a speedy recovery of the community.”

Macua has also tightened its border policy, with anyone wishing to leave the region now required to obtain a negative COVID-19 virus within the previous 23 hours, shortened from 48 hours previously. 

Nearby Chinese city Zhuhai has maintained its mandatory 14 days of quarantine measure on individuals entering from Macau, although other cities in mainland China have not yet imposed such restrictions.

Authorities revealed that one of the four construction workers to test positive in this latest cluster had caught the same bus as a security guard who tested positive last week and had touched the same handrail.

By directly connecting the group of construction workers to the group of security guards, health officials believe the situation can be brought under control.

Macau poker machines to feature time clock from 2024

A new feature is set to be required on all poker machines in Macau by 2024.

GGR Asia reports that all player screens in Macau machines must be fitted with an intermittently flashing clock showing the local time by the end of 2024.

The requirement is part of the city’s Electronic Gaming Machine Technical Standards version 2.0, which came into force on September 1.

The term “electronic gaming machine” or EGM, is used in Macau to denote casino poker machines.

Electronic table games, or ETGs, are covered by separate technical standards.

“The purpose of a clock on the gaming machine is for the promotion of responsible gambling,” the Macau regular, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said.

That was understood to be a reference to the clock acting as a reminder to players about how much time they are spending on the device.

“All machines will need to be retrofitted with the clock by the end of year 2024,” the gaming regulator said.

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