The largest development to the casino industry has been the introduction of mobile casino games and casino apps. It now seems almost impossible to spend an evening in front of the television without viewing an advert for the most recent casino app. Big News Network.com. Macau's casino industry experienced 90% declines in gaming revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the city's resorts to close their doors.
Casino Industry Newsletter
Macau is the home of gambling for most Chinese people, with its liberalised and well-regulated casino scene attracting millions of tourists from overseas and mainland China, helping it to overtake Las Vegas as the world's biggest casino hub in terms of annual revenues. However, for six successive months, Macau's casino industry experienced 90% declines in gaming revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the city's resorts to close their doors.
Some 60% of the city's casino employees were furloughed without pay as a consequence of the pandemic, but October 2020 figures have provided a chink of light at the end of the tunnel, suggesting that better days are ahead for Macau and the wider casino industry. Gaming revenues experienced 229% month-on-month improvements in October, due largely to the Golden Week celebrations which normally double the footfall in the city's casinos.
Even though the city anticipates the number of tourist arrivals to be down by as much as 90% this year, hope abounds that 2021 will be a better year even if the city's budget proposals for next year suggest trading conditions will remain 'harsh'. The reasoning for this label is not only due to the health and economic climate, but the rise in the number of online competitors that accept Chinese players some of which now even have their own Chinese language interfaces. But in terms of the industry's land-based resorts, what measures have they already adopted to help them reopen and embrace the 'new normal'?
Thermal imaging systems
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Those venues which can afford to do so are installing thermal imaging systems at the entrance of their casino floors. This technology is designed to help detect whether a player is suffering with or is showing signs of coming down with a high temperature or fever. It's a more accurate system than temperature-checking devices that are prone to inaccuracies and will help to ensure fewer guests carrying COVID-19 symptoms are admitted into casinos.
Face-up dealing for card games
To limit the possible transmission of the virus at the tables, casinos have decided to limit card contact for players. Although players can still touch and use their own chips, any hand dealt to them in a card game will be displayed face-up. Although this is standard practice for games such as blackjack, it adds a unique edge to players that enjoy a spot of three-card poker. The aim of the game is to ensure that your hand is a higher rank than the dealer's hand. If all player hands are visible and face-up on the table, it's easier for players to deduce which cards are more likely to be in the dealer's hand and size their bets accordingly.
All casino resorts have been encouraged to install transparent barriers and screens between player areas. This is particularly important for table games like blackjack and poker, where players struggle to maintain a safe distance of six feet apart. Barriers are also being introduced between dealers and their players too, providing improved protection for casino employees too. All dealers are also being equipped with face masks or visors to provide a further layer of protection.
Periodic cleaning and disinfection
It goes without saying that casinos are having to implement periodic cleaning and disinfection of surfaces that are frequently used, including ATMs, door handles, table rails, and slot machine screens and buttons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states this should be undertaken at least daily but more frequently wherever possible.
It's pleasing to see that resorts are developing commercial solutions for the 'new normal', or at least until casinos can welcome back their valued patrons in a normal fashion in a post-vaccine climate.