Coronavirus causes US casino closures

By Charlotte Lee Updated
US casinos slowly start to reopen their facilities

The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe and countries are grappling to contain the spread of the virus and deal with the severe impact it has on economies, the disruption it causes on people’s lives and the multi-faceted stress it places on the whole society.

Casino News Daily reports that with more than 150,000 confirmed cases and more than 5.839 deaths globally, Covid-19 is officially the worst public health situation the world has faced in many years.

In the United States, the number of confirmed cases has passed 2,100 and the virus has killed at least 50 people.

Most United States states have now been affected and the number of cases is growing rapidly.

Officials have been urging the public not to panic, but to take the necessary precautions and be responsible to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

Social distancing has been prescribed as one of the best measures to mitigate the outbreak and officials across sates have been issued order to cancel any gatherings involving crowds.

Casinos in states with tighter rules against the spread of coronavirus have also been affected.

And over the course of just a couple of days, gambling regulators in a number of states have ordered statewide casino closures that would last at least 14 days or until further notice.

Canberra casino faces increasing losses

The owner and operator of Casino Canberra is facing increased losses as it grapples with falling gaming revenue, but the company says discussions are back on with the ACT government about a major redevelopment project.

The Canberra Times reported that Aquis Entertainment Limited recorded an almost $4 million loss to December 2019, according to its financial statements.

It was more than half a million dollars higher than the loss recorded in 2018.

The casino’s revenue has fallen 6.1 per cent or $1.6 million since 2018 as its share price hit a low of 0.011 at the end of February.

The drop in revenue was driven by a 6.6 per cent decrease in gaming revenue and a 1.7 per cent decrease in food and beverage and other sales, the statements said.

The release of the financial results came after the company announced in February a long-awaited deal to transfer ownership of the casino to Blue Whale Entertainment had been terminated.

The financial statements said it meant its focus would return to redevelopment plans and discussions with the government to begin operating poker machines.

“The company still has intentions to update plans in relation to a proposed redevelopment, incorporating the 200 [electronic gaming machines] for which approval has been legislated,” the documents said.

“There are several terms in the legislation which require clarification prior to the company being able to settle any plans.

“Discussions have been held with the government in relation to a plan as to clarification of these items, which will progress through 2020.”

ACT laws have long barred Casino Canberra from operating pokie machines.

But under legislation enacted in 2017, it could operate 200 if it met a number of requirements including completing an approved redevelopment of the precinct.

Protracted negotiations with the territory government around a redevelopment fell through in 2018.

The casino, which employs 221 people, had wanted to operate 500 machines.

The proposed development included plans for luxury hotels, prestige brand shopping, new bars, cafes, and a new convention centre.

The company’s balance sheet at December 31 showed a net asset deficit of $20.6 million, up from $16,651,690 in 2018 as a result of the loss incurred during the financial year.

Earnings before Interest Tax Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) for the year was a profit of $72,244, down on the 2018 profit of $625,885.

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