The border between China and Macau should be swarming with tourists celebrating the Year of the Rat, but this year it stands nearly empty. Fears of the coronavirus outbreak have led to a drop in Macau tourism and casino stock prices.

Wuhan Coronavirus

The outbreak of the new coronavirus designated 2019-nCoV started in Wuhan, China on December 8, 2019. As unsuspecting travelers began carrying the virus to other countries, governments began to take action. But the genie was already out of the bottle, and as of January 28, 2020, the Wuhan coronavirus has infected nearly 4,700 people and caused 106 deaths.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties. If untreated, it may result in death. Those who suspect they may have the virus are advised to avoid travel, wear protective masks, and to seek medical advice immediately.

Casinos Take Action

As the majority of Macau’s gambling tourists flock to the casino mecca from mainland China, Macau casinos began implementing protective measures. At first, they required all casino employees to wear masks, then they implemented security checks at all entrances to measure the temperature of everyone who entered.

Long lines outside of pharmacies soon led to shortages of masks, leading to the decision to possibly close Macau casinos until the outbreak passes. But fear itself may solve the problem: tourists are staying away. Travel restrictions put in place by China have also slowed the tourism flow to a trickle. As a result of the drop in gambling revenue from international gaming tourism, Macau casino stocks have taken a nosedive.

Stock prices of big casino firms like Wynn Resorts dropped 11%, Wynn Macau Ltd. Declined 13%, and Sands China Ltd. Fell 8% as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The number of Macau visitors fell 80% on Sunday, which was the third day of the Chinese New Year celebration.

While the Macau government was deciding to close casinos, the problem seems to be taking care of itself. The casinos won’t have to close their doors if nobody is walking through them.

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A Massachusetts native, blogger Angeline Everett grew up in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and earned a degree in casino management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. After graduating, Angeline moved to Atlantic City where she joined the young team at the Borgata Casino as a compliance representative, while blogging on the side. After a few years in the back office, Angeline moved to the floor to work first at a casual poker dealer and later casual poker floor supervisor. Fascinated with games of chance since she was a child, Angeline currently divides her time between blogging and work on her first book.