Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd says gaming operations at its Sands Cotai Central resort are to resume on Thursday, February 27. The information was included in the firm’s unaudited annual report, filed last Friday to the Hong Kong bourse.
“Our Macau operations, including some of our hotel facilities that had been temporarily closed, are now being gradually reopened in accordance with certain limitations imposed by the Macau government to safeguard public health and in line with demand,” said Sands China.
Macau casinos started to reopen on Thursday (February 20), following a 15-day shutdown ordered by the city’s government as part of the efforts to contain the spread locally of the coronavirus. The Macau casino regulator had stated that all reopenings of gaming venues would involve special arrangements regarding density of seating for customers at gaming tables and a minimum space being required between operational tables.
Sands China added: “Our group’s casino operations resumed on February 20, 2020, except for our casino operations at Sands Cotai Central, which is currently expected to resume operations on February 27, 2020.”
Even after partial resumption of gaming business, casino executives and investment analysts were not expecting the Macau market to see a fast ramping up of trade, due to factors including various travel restrictions imposed in China and beyond to try to contain the virus’ spread.
Hotels at casino resorts were not included in the original shutdown order on gaming operations but some operators had chosen to shutter some of their hotels for operational reasons. Occupancy levels were said to have plummeted, coinciding with the casino shutdown and the start of a temporary ban on exit visas for residents of mainland China to visit Macau.
The Four Seasons Hotel Macao – part of the complex that includes the Venetian Macao and the Plaza Macao, operated by Sands China – had already restarted operations last week. But two other five-star Cotai hotels promoted by the company – St Regis Macao, Cotai Strip; and Conrad Macao Cotai Strip – remained shuttered as of Monday. The two hotels are part of Sands Cotai Central (pictured in a file photo), a property currently being remodelled as the Londoner Macao as part of a wider US$2.2-bilion revamp of Sands China’s property portfolio.
In the report filed on Friday, Sands China said the duration and intensity of the global Covid-19 health emergency and related disruptions was “uncertain”, including potential broader impacts outside of China “if travel and visitation continue to be restricted”.
“Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances, the related impact on our group’s consolidated results of operations, cash flows and financial condition will be material, but cannot be reasonably estimated at the time of this announcement,” added the firm.
On Friday, Sands China also announced the appointment of Grant Chum Kwan Lock as the firm’s chief operating officer, with effect from that day. Wilfred Wong Ying Wai retained his post as Sands China’s president, according to a separate filing.
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"There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world"
Macau-based lawyer and senior partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés