Australian figures from the recent pandemic are looking much more positive, and as the country starts making its way out of lock-down, smaller workplaces are returning to work, and state wide restrictions are starting to lift.
But while the country is opening up to domestic tourism, and family businesses can open up shop, international tourism is far further off, and larger Australian industries like casino resorts are still under lock-down.
Casino tourism had recently become travel’s largest sector, with casinos like Crown Melbourne attracting more tourists per year than the likes of the Sydney Opera House!
Supporters of the online gaming industry speculate that the pandemic will be the final blow to traditional gaming; one of the serious implications of the coronavirus at Australia Casinos is the cultural shift towards online gambling.
So with this significant source of revenue and employment suddenly out, the question then becomes: will casino tourism in Australia recover?
Will Casino Tourism in Australia Recover?
Exactly How Bad are Things Right Now?
In a nutshell – pretty bad. As you know, physical casinos have been closed for months now, and thousands of jobs have been lost.
Some casinos completely folded under the financial strain of the pandemic, whereas some have hung on by the skin of their teeth. If we look at the two major players, Crown Resorts and Star Group, they’ve had to secure debt packages that extend into the hundreds of millions to stay afloat.
Since casinos have been closed since March 23rd, these two giants have made some rather extreme budget cuts just to ride out this storm. Crown Resorts removed 95% of its workforce, just to give an idea of exactly how hard these casinos have been hit.
High-up employees have made cuts to their own wages in order to keep the business going, with reports stating that some had made cuts of up to 50%. While working at half pay employees are desperately wondering if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
They now want to know when they will be able to get back to work. Will the resorts open again and if so, when can it be expected and will the resort return to full operations, will gatherings and events continue to be limited?
Will they survive financially? Has the casino industry suffered irreparable damage? Basically, will casino gaming return to what it was before the outbreak?
The Road to Recovery
While it’s impossible to for-tell the future, the one thing we can say with certainty is that the road to recovery isn’t going to be quick, and it isn’t going to be pleasant.
Casinos are already down by millions of dollars in lost revenues despite closures only being in place for around 7 weeks at the time of writing. However, in an industry where patrons are required to be physically present for casinos to make money, things are still looking somewhat bleak.
The more optimistic reports at present state that casinos and other betting establishments could be open by July 2020. That means another 2 months of lost revenue, and another 2 months of securing debt packages to remain in business.
Sadly, it also means another 2 months in which workers from major casinos will still not have a job.
Even if these casinos open in July, it would be hugely surprising if there weren’t some form of patron restrictions. We’d expect to see the maximum number of players allowed in at a time to be reduced, and working hours may even be reduced in the short term.
If these casinos do ultimately survive the recovery process could be very slow, and it may well be years before things get back to normal.
Based on current pandemic figures in Australia as well as industry-specific changes, we don’t expect casinos to open before July. At the absolute earliest, a few larger casinos may open up their doors in July, but things will definitely be different.
Visitors may still be required to wear masks, group sizes will be smaller, and there may still be social distancing measures in place. For example, you might only be allowed 2 or 3 people at a blackjack table or at a roulette wheel, which will seem very strange.
On a positive note for casino goers, casinos will likely offer some very appealing incentives to get people back through the doors. We may see free bet offers emerge, and the hospitality packages may be very attractive indeed.
After all, they need to make up for lost revenue somehow!
While we all have to sit and wait out this storm, life as we know it could well be returning to some form of normality over the next few months.
However when it comes to gambling culture, it will be interesting to see if any long term cultural shifts towards online gambling take revenue away from casino tourism.