Aussie casinos braced for slower recovery due to border closures

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Aussie casinos braced for slower recovery due to border closures

Tourism in the Asia Pacific region is expected to recover at a slower pace than first though, with low consumer confidence and China’s zero-COVID policy pinpointed as the cause.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that Fitch Ratings analysts George Xu and Stephen Schwartz said China’s reluctance to reopen its border would continue in 2022, particularly in markets that rely heavily on international tourism, resulting in another subdued year of travel ahead.

“International travel remains subdued across APAC as border restrictions are reimposed amid the Omicron COVID-19 variant,” the analysts said.

“Fitch Ratings expects a slower recovery in international tourism across the region in 2022, despite higher vaccination coverage and ramped up reopening efforts.

“The evolving global epidemiological situation poses a high degree of uncertainty and a tourism recovery in destinations with low vaccination rates, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, will remain vulnerable to setbacks.

“Pent up travel demand remains to be diverted domestically, as we believe it will take time to restore confidence in cross-border travel safely.

“We expect China to maintain its ‘zero-COVID’ policy through most of 2022, with quarantine-free travel corridors set up for only Macau and Hong Kong.

“China was a key souce market for tourism-dependent economies such as Thailand, pre-pandemic.”

Also vulnerable, Fitch said, are the likes of Japan, which tightened border controls again in November and Singapore, which has temporarily suspended the sale of plane tickets for its “vaccinated travel lane” scheme.

“Travel prospects are a key rating driver for tourism-dependent sovereigns,” the analysts wrote.

They noted that “tourist arrivals have been well below pre-pandemic levels across APAC even with jurisdictions such as Australia having recently reopened their borders.

“APAC economies have been slower to ease cross-border travel restrictions than other regions,” they said.

Queensland courts don’t give up fight to claw back $43m from high roller

A Queensland court isn’t giving up on trying to reach an outcome in the case of a baccarat high roller who owes A$43 million. reports that the debt, accrued at Star Gold Coast by billionaire Dr Wong Yew Choy won’t be thrown out by the Queensland Supreme Court.

Wong arrived at the Gold Coast venue on one of the casino’s private jets in July 2018, according to the complaint from Star Entertainment.

The high roller was given A$40 million in chips, which he lost within three days.

The casino then gave him an additional A$10 million.

After a week at the tables, he left the casino precisely A$43,209,853.34 in the red, according to Star.

This included a hotel bill of more than A$420,000.

The chips were extended as credit, to be settled later, which is not unusual for high rollers of Wong’s standing.

He submitted as security two blank checks, leaving the casino to fill in the particulars.

But they bounced when the casino tried to cash them.

Star initially pursued the debt through the Singapore courts, but they sided with the billionaire.

That’s because the city state’s Civil Law Act prohibits the government from assisting foreign companies seeking to recoup debts related to overseas gambling.

In his motion to have the case dismissed in the Queensland Court of Appeals, Wong argued the Singapore ruling should stand, and further litigation represented “unjustified oppression” against him, which “brought the administration of justice into disrepute.”

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