Sands China President Dr Wilfred Wong has described the current period as the most difficult for Macau’s gaming industry since liberalization, noting there is no immediate end in sight to the massive loss in revenues being experienced by operators.
Speaking to media during a charity event on Monday in which Sands China announced it was donating 30,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to local charity groups, Dr Wong revealed that Sands Cotai Central – one of 12 Macau properties to remain closed last week – would re-open this Thursday. But he warned it would still be some time before Macau returned to full operations.
“[Business] after re-opening is bad and we cannot even compare how bad it is with the past,” said Dr Wong. “This difficult time will last until the resumption of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) and tour groups from mainland China.
“Macau hasn’t recorded new cases for 20 days so it is doing a great job on preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, but we still have to wait for the situation in the mainland.
“Some reduction of gaming revenues had occurred in previous years, but guests were still able to come at that time. Now guests are not allowed to come. And although the medical tests imposed on tourists is a good preventive measure for Macau, for mainland tourists, they won’t be willing to wait several hours to cross into Macau. Some tourists just won’t return.”
Dr Wong also noted that the spread of the virus into other nearby nations was a growing concern, stating, “[The outbreak of the Coronavirus] has not only happened in mainland, but also in South Korea and Japan. Macau’s tourism industries depend on all of these markets.”
Meanwhile, Dr Wong revealed that Sands Cotai Central will re-open on 27 February, albeit with limited operations. Sands China has until now arranged staff to take leave during the closure period to save costs, with only around 30% of casino staff having returned to work since the 15-day casino closure came to an end last week.
“We try to save our energy and prepare the best for the rest of this year,” he said. “We hoped that people would engage in going out after staying at home during the quarantine days, but it’s hard to say.”
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, Sands China announced late last week that Grant Chum had been promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer, with Dr Wong retaining the position of President after almost five years as President and COO.
Discussing the change on Monday, Dr Wong said, “The company is always looking at the long-term future. This is my fifth year. I put in place a lot of procedures and operational arrangements which I think will safeguard operations in the future.
“If I look forward to my new four-year contract, I would like to play a more active role in strategic initiatives in both Macau and the Greater Bay Area. I will still be the President to lead the company’s operations. We hope to build Sands China to be the best not only in Macau but also worldwide.”