Australian Casinos Shut Down Every Second Pokie To Create Social Distancing
The coronavirus has hit the world hard and people are scrambling to contain it. One of the more effective methods is by social distancing, which is people staying a certain distance from each other so that they do not spread the infection.
This is especially important in places like a casino where people are grouped. To help their visitors out with this, the two biggest Australian casinos have said they would shut down half their pokie machines to help stop the virus from spreading.
The casino industry is already reeling from the coronavirus, with closures all over the world. With closed casinos, operators are expecting a fall in revenue and share value. This move by Australian casinos shows how much pressure is on the tourism sector to make sure that they stay open and encourage players.
Australian casinos depend heavily on Asian visitors and VIPs who come over from China and spend huge sums of cash at their casinos. With the current travel restrictions placed on foreign travelers, many casinos are turning to their remaining resource: domestic gamblers. Australian casino operators want to keep domestic revenue coming in and they are taking precautions to ensure domestic players still keep coming.
ABC News (Australia)
Crown Resorts and rival Star Entertainment Group announced that they would be keeping gamblers away from each other by turning off every second pokie machine so that everyone has sufficient space. They will also be restricting the number of players at casino tables. This is a major decision by the two casino operators. Combined, they operate more than 4,000 slot machines in the Sydney and Melbourne alone. Their revenues will be reduced significantly by reducing their pokie machines by 50 percent.
The two operators also operate conference spaces and will now impose restrictions on these conferences. Crown is capping attendance at 450 people while Star is set the limit at 500. These limits are in line with what the Australian government has advised in terms of total crowd size. The government has sent out advisories to cancel non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people.
While both operators confirm that their policies are in line with government rules, there are critics who believe that the two operators should have made the decision to shut down operations completely as it would be more effective in controlling COVID-19.