NZ casinos take action against coronavirus

By Mia Chapman Updated
SkyCity encourages vaccination through its own vax hub

Casinos across New Zealand have taken action over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, including shutting down a number of games and ramping up cleaning procedures.

Stuff NZ reports that venues in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown have made a number of changes to operations around the time Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced large gatherings should be abandoned.

Ardern said gatherings of 500 or more people should be cancelled to try to prevent the community spread of coronavirus.

The chief executive of SkyCity Entertainment Group, which owns three casinos across New Zealand said that SkyCity was able to control the number of people at its venues.

“Our business is similar to a shopping centre in that we have a number of smaller venues within a larger precinct,” Graeme Stephens said.

“In the case of SkyCity, we can control the decisions for each venue across the entire precinct.”

The main changes include player numbers at tables being reduced to five, some machines being turned off to ensure a safe distance between people, a ramp-up of cleaning services and an increase in hand sanitisers for staff and guests.

The Tour de Force, where New Zealand military and emergency response teams run up 1103 steps to the top of the Sky Tower has also been cancelled.

Christchurch Casino hasn’t closed any games or reduced table numbers, but has increased cleaning frequency and added more hand sanitiser stations.

In a statement, chief executive Brett Anderson said the most important thing is for customers who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to stay away from the casino.

Dunedin Casino has also increased its cleaning as well as cutting all food service to the slot machines.

It too has added extra sanitation stations and increased the frequency of cleaning of surfaces that get a lot of use.

According to SkyCity, any guest who is showing flu-like symptoms will be removed from the venue for the safety of staff and guests.

Crown introducing social distancing

Crown Resorts is introducing social distancing at its Melbourne casino in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

7News reports that Crown said on Monday it would keep gamblers apart by switching off every second gaming machine and electronic table, barring standing players at seated table games, and restricting the number of players at stand-up table games to five.

The company will also restrict the number of patrons in its banqueting and conference facilities to 450 people “with a prescribed maximum density.”

The moves by Crown, which the company said were approved by state health officials, come a day after the Australian government advised against non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people.

The practice of social distancing has been adopted by several countries, halting sporting, cultural and religious events.

Crown shares were down 10.12 per cent to $7.37 on Monday, amid a broader market downturn.

Closing its Melbourne casino would be a significant blow for Crown, which reported a slump in gambling turnover from Chinese high rollers, a key demographic, in the half year just ended.

Crown said it has also implemented other measures at its Melbourne and Perth properties, including greater frequency of cleaning and the provision of hand sanitiser.

Star and Crown to remain open

One in two poker machines will be deactivated and gamblers not allowed to sit side by side at Australia’s largest two casinos, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Unlike other global casino giants which have temporarily closed their venues in response to the fast-moving outbreak, including in Las Vegas, both Star Entertainment and Crown Resorts will keep their casino doors open.

The new social distancing measures at Sydney’s The Star and Melbourne’s Crown – which come after health authorities at the weekend expanded guidelines to urge people to remain 1.5 metres from each other, include deactivating every second poker machine and electronic table game, enforcing distancing at seated gaming tables between players and limiting the number of players at each stand-up table to five.

Bars, nightclubs, restaurants, ballrooms and conference facilities will be limited to 450 people at Crown’s casino and 499 people at The Star.

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