Malaysian casino shuts down due to pandemic 

By William Brown Updated
Resorts World Las Vegas given green light to open

A new round of restrictions announced by the Malaysian government has forced the closure of Resorts World Genting.

Calvin Ayre reports that the casino complex will close entirely between January 22 and February 4 to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

The operator notes that essential resort-based services such as security, utilities and clinics will remain operational, but casinos and other resort services will be closed.

Guests have been offered a phone number to call if they need to change their reservation dates or if they wish to request a refund.

Malaysia was forced to implement their movement control order on January 13, due to a new spike in coronavirus cases.

The continuing spread of the virus has forced the government to extend its movement order to all states, except Sarawak.

The Ministry of Health reports 4008 cases in the 24 hours leading up to January 31, bringing the pandemic tally to 169,379, while 630 have died of the virus.

“The MCO standard operating procedures are the same as I have announced before,” Senior Minister Ismail Sabri said.

“That means residents are not allowed out, except for two from one household for daily necessities, including emergency cases.”

Resorts World Genting first announced they would be restricting capacity and operations from January 13, following the original movement control order announced for some states.

Fitch Ratings reports on Asia-Pacific casino recovery

The casino gaming sector will improve in 2021 after the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings.

GGR Asia reported in November that the analysts said gaming markets more reliant on local visitation will continue to recover faster, adding that any effects of the on-off closures due to local virus infections were likely to be “less active in 2021”.

Availability of vaccines would “allow destination markets like Singapore and Las Vegas to begin recovering more in earnest in second half 2021,” the ratings paper said.

The credit assessment institution also noted that cost cutting by casinos had meant that the impacts of the pandemic had been offset by healthy balance sheets.

Fitch Ratings said it maintained a negative outlook for a majority of its “rated gaming universe” because of the pandemic’s severe impact to casino operators and uncertainty regarding the sector’s recovery trajectory.

Discussing jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific, Fitch noted that for the Macau casino market, although the city had an almost universal quarantine-free travel bubble with mainland China, current continued travel restrictions between Hong Kong and Macau were a “headwind”.

The institution said it was forecasting monthly revenue declines of 50 per cent to 60 per cent, year-on-year, through the first half of 2021, with accelerating growth in the second half, “led primarily by the premium mass segment.”

Fitch Ratings noted: “The eventual easing of travel to Hong Kong and potential availability of a vaccine drives our assumption for a strong second half 2021 performance relative to first half 2021.”

The financial institution observed that while Macau’s current six gaming licences expire in June 2022, the city’s chief executive Ho Iat Seng had a “multi-year extension option” in relation to the current rights.

“Fitch continues to believe the concession rebid process will be pragmatic,” said the credit rating agency, referring to an anticipated new public tender associated with the expiry of the current Macau gaming rights.

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