May 28, 2020 Newsdesk Latest News, Philippines, Top of the deck
A senior executive at City of Dreams (CoD) Manila, one of several private-sector casino resort complexes in the Entertainment City zone in Metro Manila, has confirmed to GGRAsia that it, like market rival Solaire Resort and Casino, will eventually restart with reduced gaming operations once the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted.
“When given the permission to operate, we are ready to open our doors though on reduced capacity – both in gaming and hospitality – to provide our colleagues and guests the safest environment possible,” the chief operating officer of City of Dreams Manila, Kevin Benning, told GGRAsia. City of Dreams Manila is operated by Melco Resorts and Entertainment (Philippines) Corp, a unit of Asian casino resort developer Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
The Metro Manila lockdown that began in mid-March has been extended in increments during the past two months, and is poised to run in a modified form until at least the end of this month. Under the current modified lockdown, leisure and entertainment facilities are still not allowed to open.
“It is necessary that we reduce our [available] gaming facilities by about 40 percent to 80 percent overall, with a plan to initially open VIP and premium mass gaming,” Mr Benning noted to us.
Under guidelines from the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), “tables and slot machines will be set apart by one metre [3.28 feet],” noted Mr Benning. “Face masks and other protective wear will be strictly enforced for the safety and good health of both our colleagues and patrons,” the City of Dreams Manila executive added.
Solaire safety steps
Bloomberry Resorts Corp, operator of Solaire, had separately confirmed spacing measures would apply on its gaming floors for safety reasons. According to reopening arrangements outlined on the company’s website, it is aiming for “ample social distancing” in table operations with only one baccarat table to be in use for customers, for every cluster of four tables on the floor, and only one table open in each “private gaming salon;” understood to be a reference to VIP areas.
Solaire’s casino is to open only “20 percent” of the gaming tables hosted at the property, and “30 percent” of electronic gaming machine capacity.
Managements respectively at Solaire and at City of Dreams Manila (pictured in a file photo) said they would “disallow” at reopening any “back betting” at gaming tables – typically people that like to stand behind seated players and follow and bet on what they perceive as winning trends. Both venues will permit only a maximum of three players per table.
“Back betting was never and will not [after restart] be allowed at our gaming tables,” City of Dreams Manila COO Mr Benning told us. He added that a frequent disinfection routine would be followed on the gaming floors, applicable to guests and staff.
“Besides the mandatory face masks on all colleagues, guests and patrons,” gaming equipment and devices for table games will be “disinfected at the end of each shoe,” of cards, “if not hourly,” said the COO. What he termed “slot ambassadors” – slot floor staff – would be equipped with hand sanitiser products in order to “wipe down” electronic gaming machines, “after each use, even as patrons will be advised to sanitise the machines prior to the start of their game,” Mr Benning added.
City of Dreams Manila and Solaire said they had the means to test their returning staff for the Covid-19 virus.
GGRAsia also approached the management of Entertainment City’s Okada Manila casino resort for details on its reopening plans, but had not received a reply by the time this story went online.
In a video message released last week, Takashi Oya, president of Okada Manila, said the restart would feature what he termed “foot traffic controls” to be implemented across the property, together with “frequent disinfection” work and “thorough hygiene and sanitisation” practices. Okada Manila is promoted by a unit of Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp.
It emerged this week that an internal memo from Mr Oya indicated more than 1,000 jobs were to be cut at Okada Manila due to “severe losses” linked to the shutdown of operations.
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