Casinos in Metro Manila in the Philippine capital are to remain closed at least until May 15, as the government decided to extend the local quarantine to tackle the Covid-19 disease outbreak. Online responses on Friday to GGRAsia from customer service teams at the Okada Manila casino resort and Solaire Resort and Casino, both in Metro Manila, indicated they would remain closed for as long as the national government imposed the lockdown measures.
President Rodrigo Duterte (pictured centre) has approved a further extension – this time until the mid-May date – of an anti-coronavirus lockdown that started on the main island Luzon in mid-March. The latest extension decision followed a Thursday meeting of the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The extension applies to some areas of Luzon, including Metro Manila, which was one of the places assessed as still being “high risk” in terms of the spread of Covid-19, said a government press statement. The measures will be expanded to other regions with big outbreaks but modified in lower-risk areas, which would see a partial resumption of work, transport and commerce, according to the government.
Solaire, which is run by a unit of Bloomberry Resorts Corp, told us: “We will resume operations once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted.”
“There are no exact dates and times yet. All our members will be notified once we are back in operations,” the resort added in reply to our query.
Okada Manila, run by a unit of Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp, told GGRAsia following our enquiry, referring also to an instruction from the nation’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor): “In support of the Philippine government’s directive to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus and Pagcor’s memorandum for all licensed casinos and gaming sites in the National Capital Region, Okada Manila’s gaming floor operations were suspended on March 15, and will remain so until further notice.”
Solaire and Okada Manila, as well as City of Dreams Manila, run by a unit of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd; and Resorts World Manila run by Travellers International Hotel Group Inc; are all classified by Pagcor as part of the Entertainment City cluster of large-scale private-sector casino resorts that in normal trading periods drive most of the revenues for the nation’s casino industry.
A Thursday announcement from the Presidential Communications Operations Office said that Cebu province – where a number of casino venues are located and several new schemes are planned – was “subject to enhanced community quarantine, subject to further evaluation”.
According to a dedicated web page of the country’s Department of Health, as of 4pm on Sunday, the Philippines had recorded 7,579 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, and 501 deaths as a result.
On Monday it was reported that presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had confirmed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) would still not be allowed to resume operations for now, even once some areas were allowed from May 1 to relax lockdown rules from “enhanced” community quarantine to “general” community quarantine.
In normal times POGOs provide online-delivered gambling to customers outside the country.
It was further reported though that either POGOs or those casinos under the branding of Pagcor that happen to be located in a general quarantine area would have the right to apply for an exemption regarding closure. But the Inter-Agency Task Force had yet to make any recommendation to allow them to restart operations, Mr Roque was cited as saying.
(Updated 9.20am, April 27)
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