Coronavirus wipes out business in gambling capital of the world

Gross gaming revenue in Macao plunged 87.8% in February

Casinos in Macao, the world’s largest gambling enclave, reported a record plunge in gaming revenue in February after a 15-day closure that was brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. Shares of casino operators doing business in the country were trading higher after falling early in the session.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MGM MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL 41.90 +1.02 +2.50%
WYNN WYNN RESORTS LTD. 131.06 +1.25 +0.96%

Gross gaming revenue in Macao fell 87.8 percent year-over-year in February to 3.1 billion patacas ($386.5 million), according to the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau. The sharp drop came after the government on Feb. 4 ordered casino operators to shut down for 15 days to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

February marked the second consecutive month that Macao was affected by the outbreak. Gross gaming revenue fell 11.3 percent year-over-year in January — to 22.1 billion patacas — after Macao was forced to close its borders to mainland China during the Jan. 24-30 Lunar New Year holiday, a particularly busy time for traveling in China.

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The coronavirus outbreak has sickened 87,137 people worldwide and killed 2,977, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

Macao, the only place where gambling is legal in China, receives about 76 percent of its revenue from the industry. Gross gaming revenue for 2019 was 292.5 billion patacas ($36.6 billion), more than three times the size of Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas ($10.36 billion).

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Shares of MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts were both down about 29 percent from Jan. 20, the day the coronavirus was first reported to have spread outside of China, through Friday.