Coronavirus: U.S. run Macau casinos will follow government guidance even if shutdowns are ordered Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · January 24, 2020 at 6:02 am Nevada-based Macau casino operators said they will follow the wishes of local government leaders who are dealing protecting the region from a dangerous viral outbreak, even if it means shutting down gaming activities in the South China market on the eve of the lucrative New Year’s holiday. Two cases of the deadly coronavirus have been confirmed in Macau, the world largest gaming market, and fears of a viral outbreak have shaken region as country prepares to celebrate the Year of the Rat. On Thursday, Macau Chief Executive Ho lat Seng ordered the cancellation of all large-scale public events as part of the New Year’s celebration. He would not rule out the possibility of indefinitely suspending casino operations as well should the situation worsen. Ho urged local organizations to cancel events and he asked Macau residents to stay at home during the holiday. Chinese New Year is one of Macau’s most lucrative gaming events and millions had expected to travel to the Special Administrative Region, China’s only legal gaming market. “Our leadership teams in the U.S. and Asia are working closely with local officials and taking the appropriate steps to protect our team members and guests,” Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said in an email Thursday. Las Vegas Sands is the largest U.S. operator in Macau with six resorts, including Venetian Macau, Sands Macau and The Parisian. The company collects roughly 65% of its quarterly revenues from Macau. “We are prepared to follow any additional protocols or guidance as they are made available,” Reese added. MGM Resorts operates two resorts in Macau, MGM Macau and MGM Cotai. MGM spokesman Brian Ahern said the properties “are being vigilant in terms of hygiene and cleaning in both the front and back of house to protect guests and team members.” Ahern said, “We are closely monitoring the viral pneumonia situation. We will proactively cooperate with the guidelines announced by the government and carry out respective measures to protect our guests and team members.” A spokesman for Wynn Resorts, which operates Wynn Macau, Encore and Wynn Palace in Macau, did not respond to an email question on the situation. The Chinese New Year holiday is expected to be a period of tremendous visitation to Macau. January is viewed as a potential boost to Macau’s casino industry, which is looking to rebound after seeing gaming revenue decline 3.4% in 2019, the special administrative region’s first annual revenue drop since 2016. While Macau has seen two cases of the virus – a total of 10 people were being kept under observation in Macau – coronavirus has claimed at least 17 lives in China with more than 630 people infected. The investment community was relatively quiet on the situation Thursday, despite news that Chinese New Year events were facing cancellations. The stock prices of Las Vegas Sands, MGM and Wynn, which had been hammered over the past few days, were largely unscathed. Shares of Las Vegas Sands ended the day unchanged from Wednesday, rallying back after declining as much as $2 a share during the trading session. The company’s stock price closed at $69.45, but some 7 million shares were traded, more than double the average daily volume. Wynn Resorts closed down 98 cents or 0.70% on the Nasdaq to end the day at $139.11. MGM Resorts closed up 37 cents, or 1.16% to end the day at $32.32. Unlike Wynn and Sands, the company is heavily focused on Las Vegas and regional U.S. markets. Among the New Year’s activities cancelled were a traditional parade and fireworks display. The Macau government also recommended companies and associations cancel any upcoming private functions. Macau casino operator SJM, which is based in Hong Kong, cancelled its annual Lunar New Year’s Eve gala dinner. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.