Some say that a trip to Macau is like taking a trip to the future! The futuristic destination is the world’s casino gaming capital, often referred to as Asia’s Las Vegas. When the Coronavirus pandemic swept through Asia like wildfire, many businesses felt the brunt of lockdown that turned many business hubs into ghost towns.
Macau is an internationally cherished gaming destination due to its strategic position for anyone touring the continent. It is just hours away from big cities like Beijing and Hong Kong and has all the modern amenities to make a trip magical. All renowned casino destinations in the world closed indefinitely to weather the Coronavirus storm.
As days turned into weeks and weeks into a couple of months, casino operators became wearier with uncertainty on when regular gaming would resume. It came as a big surprise when Macau announced the reopening of its casinos back in February.
Many expected the move to backfire after the second wave of pandemic hit Asian countries, but casinos in Macau have managed to stay operational through the tempest. Below is a status report of how famous land casinos are coping with Coronavirus and some of the reopening strategies that they can borrow from Macau.
Strict Reopening Regulations
From the gaming statistics recorded by casinos the previous year, you can understand why Macau was in a rush to get the business running after the lockdown. Individual casinos hosted an average of 108,000 visitors daily in 2019: a figure that has significantly dropped in 2020.
After reopening, the world’s largest casino landscape can barely host 50,000 visitors in a week. The new regulations have cut down 50% of operational casino tables, which interprets to half the number of gamers that the facilities can hold.
Macau’s Health Bureau has also been relentless in enforcing strict regulations for players visiting the casinos. On a typical day, you have to undergo rigorous mandatory testing. This involves checking body temperature, making personal declarations about your health status, and keeping protective masks on as you enjoy different casino games.
The government has also been lenient in systematically lifting some of its previous containment laws that inhibited movement. Macau gets some of its customers from neighboring regions like Hong Kong, and with travel bans, both locals and tourists were cut off from the beautiful city.
Such prohibitions were lifted but on condition that tourists from other regions have to take a 14-day quarantine. Today, residents of Hong Kong cannot access Macau with the one-hour ferry ride, but they can cross using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Social distancing rules in Casinos are also being enforced.
Take, for instance, gaming on a baccarat table which usually accommodated seven players, under the new set of regulations, only four players can participate. To manage the issue of exchanging cash directly, which is a medium of contamination, Macau has designed spending cards loaded with up to $327 to be used exclusively by permanent residents. This strategic move has worked to stimulate the local economy and attract business to casinos.
The Relevance of Reopening Macau Casinos to other Gaming Landscapes
Being the largest casino destination, Macau is often viewed as the trendsetter for other gaming landscapes. Some casinos in Las Vegas reopened in June with pretty much similar strategies as those applied by operators in Macau.
Many other regions are set to follow suit in the coming months. Easing legal barriers and adopting health regulations is not enough to attract customers into the gaming floor. The operators have to go the extra mile to provide assurances to the gaming community.
According to recent surveys conducted by reputable organizations like Synergy Blue, the disruption caused by Coronavirus has permanently cost casinos all over the world half of its market share. Reopening such facilities should aim for the long run, to build a new clientele and use incentives to inspire customer loyalty.
Some of the strategies that have proven effective in Macau’s gaming scene include developing loyalty programs, offering gaming specials, discounts as well as bonuses. Reopening should also factor the safety of casino patrons and employees.
Operating under the scrutiny of health authorities and policing units will have many casinos walk on eggshells and any lapse in judgment could lead to bad publicity or indefinite closure. This means that the reopening procedures should first improve the employee work environment then proceed to cater to the customers.
The casino operators also have to go back to the drawing board to come up with new marketing strategies that can measure up to the current hostile market environment.