The Chinese territory of Macau is a world-famous casino hub. In what would usually be its busiest time of year, the area has been turned into a virtual ghost town as authorities struggle to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
Arrivals fro mainland China to the peninsula have dropped by around 66% due to strict travel restrictions put in place by the local government. Ferry tours to the region have also been suspended.
Macao is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The former Portuguese colony is the only part of China where gambling is legal. With a local population of over 600,000 and an area of just 32.9 km2, it’s also the most densely populated region in the world.
The virus outbreak coincides with the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday – during which Macao usually enjoys a surge of visitors. The economy in Macao relies almost exclusively on tourism and gambling, prompting analysts to forecast a decline in gaming revenue of at least 30% for as long as restrictions are in place. The various casino operators’ share prices took a hit this week as a result, dropping by 4.7%–5.7%.
Right now most casinos are open, although their restaurants are closed and shows have been cancelled. Some could close altogether if the virus continues to spread.
Travel restrictions are in place throughout China, with most foreign governments advising against all but essential travel to the country.