Australian Casinos Close Due to Coronavirus
If you didn’t haven’t been playing at Australian online casinos because you’ve been going to your favorite live casino, think again. On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ordered all non-essential businesses to close to fight the growing threat of COVID-19. As such, all Australian live casinos were ordered closed starting Midday on March 23.
This isn’t going to be a short-term closure. Estimates predict the ban to last at least six months. There is no telling the impact this will have on the casino industry. Similar steps have been taken in the United States, and the financial impact is somewhere in the area of $23 Billion.
All Non-Essential Businesses to Close – Including Casinos
On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced some of the strictest restrictions to date, ordering Stage One restrictions to be enacted for a wide variety of businesses. These include:
- Indoor Sporting Venues
- Entertainment Venues
- Night Clubs
According to Morrison, “Practising good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives. The failure of some businesses and members of the public to do this puts people’s lives at risk.”
Australia: Melbourne and Perth’s Crown Casinos close all gambling, bars and restaurants https://t.co/Qb1TO1WXaQ
— Janne Nikkinen (@DocNikkinen) March 23, 2020
The ban went into place midday on March 23 and some predict the ban to last for some time. According to Morrison, “We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs We need every Australian to do their bit to save the lives of other Australians.”
Australia had around 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 when the order was issued. That number has jumped to 2,139 as of the writing of this article. Eight people have died from the coronavirus thus far.
What Impact Will This Have on the Casino Industry
Casinos across Australia have shut down as a result of the order, putting a significant financial strain on the industry. It is unknown at this time what the overall economic impact will be, but one can get a bit of an idea of the scope of this by looking at the United States.
Many casinos have shut down across America with all of Las Vegas in a complete shutdown. The American Gaming Association has predicted that an eight-week shutdown of gaming across America will result in a loss of $21.3 billion to casinos.
GHOST TOWN: Rows of empty chairs and tables at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas after management announced temporary service suspension amid coronavirus pandemic. https://t.co/sn8AHvwu1B pic.twitter.com/V3vM9azXrV
— ABC News (@ABC) March 17, 2020
That’s not even considering the impact on workers. Estimates claim that workers will lose a total of $59 billion in wages over that period. State and local governments will lose $34.4 billion in tax revenues.
A six-month shutdown will result in billions lost to the Australian casino industry. If there is a silver lining, it could help expedite the legalization of online gambling.
Online Gambling Can Help Casino Industry
While there are larger concerns to worry about at the moment, this crisis can serve as a case study to reevaluate the benefits of online gambling in Australia. Just imagine if online gambling was currently legal. Instead of casinos having a complete negative cash flow, they could still operate virtually and offer online pokies and table games to players.
Yes, they will still take a loss overall but that loss could be buffered by online gambling. It could also give Aussie players an alternative form of entertainment during this crisis. Better still, the government could still get gambling tax dollars even during a crisis.
No, online gambling will not be legalized during this crisis. However, lawmakers and casinos may be able to come out of this crisis with tangible reasons why online gambling is necessary to help the country when the next big outbreak happens.
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