GM China has announced the donation of MOP20 million (USD2.5M) to fight the coronavirus outbreak, bringing aid pledged by Macau casino operators to more than MOP100 million (USD 12.5M).
The contribution was made in coordination with the Liaison Office of the central Chinese government in Macau SAR, to “help Hubei province fight the epidemic”, according to the statement .“The donation will be for the purchase of medical and preventive supplies, as well as emergency materials and equipment”, read the same note.
On Friday, the gaming operator also announced it will waive 15 days of basic rent for the period of February 5 to 19 for all MGM Macau and MGM Cotai retail tenants, including local brands and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), thus waiving their rents is expected to help relieve their financial stress, Macau Business reports.
The co-chairman and executive director of MGM China, with two casinos in Macau, underlined that “this is the most critical moment (…) in the fight against the epidemic.”
“We would like to express our gratitude for the tireless and selfless efforts of medical professionals, (…) especially those on the front lines of Hubei province, (…) our sincere condolences to the affected families. (…) MGM joins all of our nation’s companions. We will overcome these difficulties and welcome an even better tomorrow,” added Pansy Ho, daughter of game tycoon Stanley Ho.
The sister, Daisy Ho, chairman of the board of directors of SJM Holdings, with 22 casinos in the territory, had already done the same and with the same goal on Wednesday, announcing the donation of MOP20 million. In a statement, SJM indicated that the donation is intended to purchase protective equipment and medical supplies to assist in efforts to prevent and combat the disease in China’s Hubei province, where the first cases of infection were detected.
On the other hand, Sands China, with five casinos, made public on Thursday the donation of MOP25 million, “to help face the current public health challenges caused by the outbreak of the new coronavirus”. Of the global amount, MOP20 million patacas are intended to “help the [Chinese] continent in its efforts to combat the virus, and MOP5 million to support Macau in” implementing preventive measures “.
On January 29, Melco Resorts, which operates four casinos in the territory, had announced a donation of HK$20 million to Hubei. On February 2, it was the turn of the Galaxy Entertainment Group, with six casinos, to also announce MOP20 million to help prevention and treatment operations in the same province.
The Government of Macau has sent thousands of civil servants home, where they continue to work, but at a distance, another solution to combat the dangers of the outbreak, which has already caused 636 deaths and infected more than 31,000 people in China, where the epidemic began, in a city in the center of the country, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.
On Wednesday, Macau announced the closure of casinos, a move that is expected to continue for at least two weeks, and cultural and sports venues, as well as all kinds of businesses, which is practically paralyzing the economy, already in recession. On Tuesday, the head of the territory’s government, Ho Iat Seng, assumed that these were difficult decisions and would “cause a lot of economic damage, but Macau manages to take that risk”.
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has urged the city’s six gaming operators to call on their workers who are on leave due to the current coronavirus epidemic to refrain from travelling abroad, avoid crowds of people and stay at home.
According to a DICJ statement Friday night reported by Macau News, the inspectorate has received information that some of the workers have travelled to the mainland for tourism since the casinos were closed earlier this week. The government has said that some 40,000 casino workers are currently on leave, most of them dealers (croupiers).
The inspectorate warned the gaming operators that if any of their employees get infected with the virus during their leave this could become an obstacle to the reopening of the casinos. The statement urged the casino workers to stay at home and refrain from travelling outside Macau during their leave.
Macau’s gaming industry generates over three-quarters of the government’s income and employs around 15 per cent of the city’s workforce.