Macau Drops Mask Requirement For Casino Visitors

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GETTY IMAGESMacau officials said that casino gambling could continue without masks designed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macau, previously the world’s capital for gambling in terms of revenue, said mask-wearing is no longer required for playing slot machines and table games in the casinos. Some of the largest casino companies in the world do business in the special administrative region of China, the only place in the country where casino-style gambling is legal.

People in the enclave are still required to wear masks on public transportation and in hospitals, for example. “The epidemic situation in Macau has continuously remained stable over the last two months,” authorities in Macau announced on the official government website.

“Making reference from the anti-epidemic experience worldwide, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre will adjust its mask-wearing requirements,” officials added in explaining the move to drop the mask rule. The COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing since 2020. China recently decided to ditch its zero-COVID policy.

Still, casino goers in Macau are expected to stay away from the casinos if they are feeling ill. According to Macau’s government, people with flu-like symptoms must wear masks. It’s also still recommended that casino visitors have a mask with them.

The rule changes have started to bring Macau back to normal.

Macau casinos won $1.4 billion (11.6 patacas) from gamblers in January, according to government figures. The amount was an 82.5% year-on-year gain compared to January 2022.

However, the $1.4 billion was still about half of the winnings in January 2019, the year before the pandemic.

The city reported $5.3 billion worth of gambling revenue in the calendar year 2022, off more than 50% from 2021 and the worst year for the casinos since back in 2004. Prior to the pandemic, Macau was a larger gambling market than the state of Nevada.

Nevada’s casinos reported calendar year 2022 gaming win of $14.84 billion, up 10.52% over the calendar year 2021. It was an all-time high for the Nevada casino industry. Gaming win of $13.42 billion in 2021 was the previous record.

More than 90% of visitors to Macau, one of the most densely-populated regions in the world, come from mainland China. The former Portuguese colony is home to six casino companies.

Casino gambling was legalized in 1962, and the gaming industry initially operated under a government-licensed monopoly.

Gambling as a share of Macau’s GDP peaked in 2013 at over 60 percent and continues to account for about half of the total economic output.

Just days after the coronavirus outbreak was designated as an international public health emergency in 2020 by the World Health Organization, Macau announced that casinos in the area would close.

 

 

 



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