The two-star hotel at Macau’s Jai Alai complex (pictured) has become the 11th accommodation venue locally to turn its sleeping space over to the city’s government for an emergency quarantine programme during the novel coronavirus pandemic. As with the other venues, the handover – which came into effect on Friday – is for an unspecified amount of time.
However, the local authorities have not ordered a shutdown of the gaming operation in the Jai Alai complex itself. Such gaming goes under the name of the next-door Casino Oceanus, and all such gaming is operated under the casino rights of SJM Holdings Ltd.
The Jai Alai hotel features a total of 132 rooms.
The local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, told GGRAsia in response to our enquiry:. “As the Health Bureau did not request a suspension of Casino Oceanus [gaming] at the [Jai Alai] hotel,” such activity at Jai Alai “can operate as usual”.
Jai Alai’s management has however – on a voluntary basis – shut a portion of that complex’s gaming that happens to be nearest to the hotel facility entrance.
“Considering that some gaming zones…are close to the Jai Alai hotel, the venue host has decided to close the gaming tables of those zones. The remaining gaming zones that are independent of the Jai Alai hotel can continue to operate,” the gaming regulator said.
According to SJM Holdings’ interim results filed in late July, as of June 30 the casino within the Jai Alai building had 56 mass-market gaming tables and 76 slot machines.
Jai Alai is a tourism complex near the Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal at the Outer Harbour. Jai Alai’s premises have been leased to SJM Holdings from local lawmaker Angela Leong On Kei. The current deal runs until December 31, 2022. Ms Leong is described by the Hong Kong bourse as a “connected person” in the lease deal, as she is an executive director of SJM Holdings.
Many hundreds of Macau residents – some studying abroad in places with high levels of coronavirus infection – have registered with the government their intention to return to the city during the pandemic emergency. Under recently-updated rules, they must undergo a 14-day period of medical observation in certain local hotels reserved for that purpose, before being allowed to go to their respective homes.
SJM Holdings noted earlier this week to GGRAsia that it hoped to mobilise its hotel resources in order to support the coronavirus infection control work of the Macau government.
The gaming firm’s parent Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA, also known as STDM – as well as “related” companies – had already made available to the local authorities Grand Lapa Hotel on Macau peninsula, Grand Coloane Resort in Coloane, and Regency Art Hotel in Taipa for the government’s quarantine efforts.
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"One thing that is certain under the coronavirus era is that the biggest beneficiaries are the illegal operators, both bricks and mortar and online"
Partner and director overseeing government affairs at casino industry consultancy Global Market Advisors