Australia has done well to prevent large waves of coronavirus outbreaks within its borders. The curve has been flattened, and talks between the government and the casino industry are paving the way for casinos to possibly open back up in the next few months.
Australia’s Coronavirus battle plan
Many nations find themselves battling to contain the spread of COVID-19, but Australia has somehow emerged relatively unscathed. A series of swift and decisive government measures are responsible for this nation’s successful anti-pandemic campaign.
- On January 23rd, incoming flights from Wuhan, China were restricted.
- On February 1st, Prime Minister Morrison banned all inbound flights from China, closing Australia’s borders to all Chinese nationals 2 days later.
- A $17.6 billion stimulus package was implemented on March 12th.
- By mid-March, Australia had also barred travellers from Italy, Iran, and South Korea.
- On March 15th, all travellers arriving in or returning to Australia discovered that they would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
- Cruise ships were banned from docking at all Australian ports.
- On March 23rd, as per government orders, all pubs, clubs, casinos, hotels, and entertainment venues were closed.
- From March 29th, public gatherings were limited to two people. Leaving home was only permitted for work, shopping, medical reasons, and exercise.
These are the most noteworthy measurements taken by the government, with many others being implemented in the same period. Australia reported its highest number of cases per day at 424.and this number had dropped to 18 cases per day by April 28th. This is a truly impressive feat and other nations would do well to emulate Australia’s example.
The success of these efforts has lead to discussions around exactly when casinos and other gambling-related enterprises can start trading again. The government recently assembled a panel to deal with this issue. Some of the organisations represented include:
- Crown Casino
- Various Pubs
- ALH, the Pokie Sector of Woolworths
- Various Community Clubs
- Assorted Pokie Companies
- Australian Hotels Association
This task force is combining efforts with the Department of Justice to address two key concerns, namely, when can gambling venues resume trading and what safety measures need to be implemented once this happens?
The team is collectively wary of rushing into anything so July or August have tentatively been set as the months that will see punters being able to frequent their favourite venues again.
An essential renaissance for gambling venues
When gaming facilities are eventually reopened, many operational changes will need to be made to ensure that the virus remains under control and venues remain safe. These are some of the measures most likely to be implemented across the board.
- Before a customer can enter a casino, club, or pub, they’ll have their temperature taken. If they have a fever, they’ll be denied access.
- To promote social distancing, every second gaming machine will be turned off and have its stool removed.
- Patrons may be required to maintain a 1.5-metre distance between them at all times.
- A maximum of four players will be allowed at table games, with an empty seat between each of them.
- A capacity limit of one person for every four square metres on their gaming floor is likely.
- Customers may be required to wear a mask and/or gloves.
Online gambling picks up the slack
The online gaming industry is one of the few sectors to find growth in the time of this crisis. The average increase in deposits has reached an estimated at 67% since lockdown measures were implemented. Google searches for terms such as “online casinos” and “online poker” have quadrupled in a matter of weeks.
Land-based casino operators are understandably concerned about this trend. In a post-pandemic world, they may well find that the brick and mortar casino is now second to the virtual pokie.