Las Vegas Sands Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein has expressed concern that the closure of Macau’s casinos might last longer than the original 15 days dictated this week by the government, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
“It could be two weeks, it could be two months,” Goldstein said during an unrelated hearing of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“The Macau Chief Executive (Ho Iat Seng) has made it clear that he will not be able to make a decision until he gets further understanding of the virus and its severity in Asia.”
The Sands COO described the 15-day closure as “a scary time” for all gaming concessionaires, but added that gaming operators had received “very positive feedback” from the Macau government.
“The Chief Executive is pro-business and we’re hoping under his direction we can get the borders open sometime in the first quarter, but there’s no way to know. Look at the SARS event 15-16 years ago. These things are unpredictable.” Goldstein said.
On 4 February, Ho Iat Seng announced that all 41 Macau casinos with other gaming operations would shut down as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic. He expressed at the time his hope that gaming properties could reopen immediately afterwards assuming spread of the virus was shown to be under control.
Hotels and restaurants can remain open, but Goldstein said Sands’ 13,000 Macau hotel rooms were currently running at only about 5 to 10% capacity, while restaurants and malls are similarly quiet.
Ultimately, he said, Sands aimed to support the decision of the government.
“They’ve been very supportive of us and they’re eager to open as well because the tax revenue has stopped and Macau depends on gambling,” he said. “The SAR really depends on gambling revenue and the tax revenue, so it’s quite painful for everybody.”