Ontario Casinos Close & Macau Limits Travel due to Omicron
The omicron variant of COVID-19 is affecting several areas of the world regarding the gambling industry negatively, including Canada and Macau.
All around the world, the omicron virus is taking hold. This variant of COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be as deadly as the original strain, but it is doing damage. Millions of people are getting sick around the world as the virus is more contagious than ever before. In Ontario, Canada, casinos have been forced to shut down due to the virus while Macau travel is limited, and Hong Kong residents will not be visiting anytime soon because of the virus.
Ontario Casinos Shut Down
Earlier this week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a warning to residents that a wave of new cases is coming. Current trends show that thousands of new cases involving omicron are appearing each day. Around 1% of those cases end up hospitalized and a surge could be devastating to the hospital system.
To try and stop a huge outbreak, the province has decided to restrict nonessential businesses, which includes casinos. A total of 28 venues are affected due to this restriction change. The shutdown will continue through January 26 and will most likely be revisited based on the number of positive cases at that time.
The largest gambling operator in Canada, Gateway Casinos, announced that it is working with government officials to stop the spread of the virus. Its highest priority is to protect the health and well-being of its employees along with customers and the community in which it operates.
While the casinos are hurting due to closure, it won’t be long until online gambling can begin. When this happens, those who offer services will be able to pull in revenues even if another shutdown were to occur.
Cross-Border Travel Between Macau and Hong Kong Delayed
Macau is considered the Las Vegas of Asia, offering a wide variety of casino gaming options via major providers. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, the region started to suffer due to lack of travel. Macau cut off travel with everyone, especially mainland China and Hong Kong. Eventually, travel was allowed again but with long quarantine time frames.
Just recently, officials in Hong Kong and Macau were working on how to open up travel between the two areas once again so that casinos could see more business. The hope was that the quarantine restrictions would no longer be needed, then omicron hit.
Since omicron has been detected, more residents of Hong Kong are willing to be vaccinated, but rates are still low overall. The spread of the new variant has caused the quarantine free travel between the two regions to be pushed back.
Hong Kong is only averaging around 17 new infections a day which is far less than other areas such as the US. However, Macau has been extremely strict on its COVID-19 protocols and with this decision has been able to remain basically virus free except for a few cases.
It will not be surprising to see travel restrictions for several weeks if not months until the world can get a handle on the new variant. And by that time, there may be a new one to contend with.
For now, areas like Ontario and Macau are making tough decisions to keep people safe and try to stay in business during the in-between time. It will be interesting to see if other areas, such as the US, decide to reinstate restrictions due to the onset of this new variant or if things will remain the same.