People turning to online gaming and alcohol amid coronavirus pandemic

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Global Gaming returns to Sweden

A London photographer says he’s doing his best to stay healthy during the coronavirus lockdown, but that it’s really hard.

“One of the things I do to lift my spirits is eat, because I can’t go out to restaurants.

“So I reach for the nearest sugary drink and sugary foods like pastries. I’ll have a cookie at midnight or soft drinks for breakfast,” he said.

Trushar Patel is 33 years old and his fiancee Deepa Ragwani is 28 years old and they usually travel a lot for work.

Being confined to the house, he says his sense of time has disappeared and he’s fallen back on his vices to stay sane.

“We don’t drink alcohol, but I’ll watch Netflix until midnight and binge watch YouTube and social media,” Patel said.

“I play computer games for several hours each day – it used to be once a week.”

Yahoo News reports that as much as we are encouraged to use this enforced isolation to stay fit, learn a second language or work on creative projects, many of us will also turn to less virtuous pastimes to get through the stressful weeks ahead.

Even the government has acknowledged we need that pressure-valve, adding off-licences to the list of “essential” shops allowed to stay open, after supermarkets found their booze shelves swept bare.

“There is something about not being able to control a situation, we don’t know how this is going to play out.

“So people might turn to things like alcohol as a coping mechanism,” counsellor Lesley Ludlow said.

“Then there is boredom. People have had their social lives taken away from them, so they look for a quick fix to make life feel a bit more normal for a while,” she said.

Online betting firm 888 Holdings said this month that its outlook for 2020 wasn’t too bad, even though gambling on traditional sports has collapsed along with live fixtures.

That is partly because customers are turning to alternatives – and some say riskier- games online such as casino and poker.

Such things may help while away the time, but the dangers are too obvious,” Ms Ludlow says.

MPs have urged gambling websites to set a 50 pound limit per day to try to stop people becoming addicted and making financial problems worse.

And the World Health Organisation has warned that alcohol is an “unhelpful coping strategy” for the possible stress caused by a coronavirus lockdown.

Galaxy takes out coronavirus loans

Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group says it has subscribed to US$12.9 million worth of special social bonds issued by Bank of China.

The casino firm said in a March announcement that the proceeds from its subscription to the instruments – described as Covid-19 impact alleviation social bonds – would be used to provide “special loans and reduce the financing costs of Macau small and medium-sized enterprises that provide healthcare and medical supplies or manufacture medical devices.

GGR Asia reports that Galaxy Entertainment said this was to “support the recovery of the local production and supply of epidemic-prevention and control products.”

The statement said the instrument was the first certified social bond issued by a Chinese financial institution.

Galaxy Entertainment’s vice chairman, Franchis Lui Yiu Tung was quoted in the announcement as saying the subscription would “help offer prompt and efficient assistance to local SMEs and alleviate their operating and financing pressures amid this critical period.”

Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, also attended a Thursday ceremony marking the bond subscription announcement.

Other Galaxy Entertainment initiatives during the coronavirus alert have included waiving the fixed-rental fee for all the group’s tenants during February, said the firm.

That is understood to be a reference to shops and food and drink outlets at the company’s casino resorts.

Its flagship Cotai property is a Galaxy Macau on Cotai.

It also runs Broadway Macau next door, which hosts Broadway Food Street, a mix of outdoor food stalls and small local restaurants.

The group’s main property on Macau peninsula is the StarWorld Hotel.

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