Careful planning must for Casinos to bounce back from COVID-19 pandemic: Experts
The adverse impact of deadly corona virus pandemic on the casino resort industry has been devastating. Casino operators across the globe are reeling, and at the same time, planning to resume operations. However, industry experts have already cautioned that a strong comeback would not be easy.
Gaming venues that have already reopened their doors to the public in jurisdictions like Macau are showing much smaller than intended outcomes as gambling and gaming clients are concerned about their health. Spot-checks on the number of customers in different Macau gaming venues have recorded merely 14 players on main gaming floors during any given midweek afternoon. The counts were carried out in the afternoon hours of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Before the corona virus outbreak, casinos of Sands China Ltd. collectively attracted as many as 200,000 players per day.
Much of this visitor decline is because of strict border restrictions put in place in Macau since the month of March. Physical barriers like cross-border travel restrictions and quarantine necessities for players traveling to or from entertainment venues have made it very difficult for customers to visit gambling destinations. The prospects for casinos in Las Vegas and Singapore are expected to be similarly challenging.
Rob Goldstein, chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, told investors that people were really frustrated and wanted to return to their favorite gaming venues. Separately, Wynn CEO Matt Maddox said that they could see a pent-up demand in their casinos’ leisure segment. But both agreed, like many industry experts, that it could be safely assume that many people’s brand preferences would have changed during the lengthy lockdown period.
An industry expert suggested, “New operating models will need to be introduced and refined as operators continue to relearn about their customer base. Las Vegas and the rest of the Silver State will need to make ongoing sanitizing and social distancing protocols SOP before venues will be allowed to reopen in Nevada.”
Provided there is no significant increase in the number of corona virus patients, one can hope that guests and employees will start to settle into normal business patterns. However, operators of the casino resorts will have to reposition and promote their offerings. They will have to opt for futuristic operating norms based on customers’ feedback. While health and public safety will remain the keystone of all businesses, casinos will have to dedicate their efforts to recreating buzz and enthusiasm about their offerings.