Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ordered all casinos to close for a period of six months. The move will help curb the ongoing spread of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.
Morrison took the drastic action as confirmed infections broke through the 2,000-mark. There are 2,136 confirmed COVID-19 infections in Australian and eight deaths. Official worldwide infections total more than 383,000 with deaths standing at more than 16,500.
Australian casinos are now banned from operating for at least six months. Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment turned off half their pokies in an attempt to implement “social distancing.” They now have to flick the switch on all pokies and casino games.
Whoever turns the lights out at Crown’s Melbourne property will have an easy job because the biggest of Australian casinos shut its gaming floor over the weekend.
The Victoria state government removed Crown Melbourne from its social distancing exemption list. The moved forced Crown to halt trading of its shares on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Australian Casinos Not The Only Businesses Hit
Morrison hoped his previous liberal approach would see Australians conform to social distancing measures voluntarily. This, however, has not been the case. Australians continued to cram into venues up and down the country, which ultimately resulted in full closures.
The press slates Australian casinos for their continued operations. They claimed casinos put profits ahead of the public’s interests.
“We don’t now have any confidence that people would refrain from gathering in those ways, in those pubs, clubs, and nightclubs. We have no confidence that will be followed. So, unfortunately, because guidelines can’t be followed, then for public health reasons we now need to take further action which shuts those gatherings down.”
The following businesses closed from noon March 23 and could stay shut for up to six-months.
- Registered and licenced clubs
- Indoor sporting venues
- Indoor churches and other places of worship
Essential businesses continue to operate, but with strict guidelines in place. Cafes and restaurants remain in operation, albeit with a takeaway or home delivery service only. Supermarkets, bottle shops, banks, pharmacies, convenience stores, and schools remain open. Crown and other hotel casinos can leave their accommodation businesses open as usual.
Full Lockdown Could Happen; Would Australian Casinos Survive?
Morrison’s latest move has distinct similarities to what we’re seeing with our cousins in the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put in place similar, relaxed measures last week. Johnson asked Britons to limit unnecessary movements otherwise he would act.
Those pleas fell on deaf ears and Johnson ordered the closure of restaurants and public houses last Friday.
Johnson’s hand was forced when Brits continued to show blatant disregard for the new rules. Johnson addressed the UK at 20:30 GMT yesterday and put the country into, almost, full lockdown.
UK residents can now only leave their homes for the most essential of tasks. These include purchasing food and medicines and travelling to an essential pace of work. Johnson pleaded with workers to work from home where possible. The government has even offered to pay 80% of a person’s salary if they’re unable to work.
It’s difficult to imagine Australian casinos surviving if Morrison follows Johnson’s lead. They’re already struggling financially due to a lack of revenue from its highest-yielding customers. Chinese VIPs simply aren’t spending the same astronomical sums of money when they’re visiting Australian casinos. Some aren’t even visiting these venues as they fear the virus. Others don’t have the same disposable income because stocks continue to crash around the world.
Australians Set to Flock Online
Traffic to online casinos is increasing following the closure of Australian casinos. Playing pokies and gambling on casino games is the favourite Australian pastime.
The likes of Kahuna, Pokies Parlour, FairGO Casino, and Uptown Pokies already saw an upturn in new customers. Responsible Australians stayed away from brick and mortar venues and gambled online instead.
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