Bloomberry Resorts, a Philippine casino company, is prepared to write off 2020, as the government is expanding the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Bloomberry chief Enrique Razon told Bloomberg TV this week that he is much less concerned with the current state of his business than he is with preventing further spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. Razon, whose interests include even major shipping terminals around the globe, said “the concerns of businesses are secondary at this point.”
All casinos in the Philippines, including Bloomberry’s Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila’s Entertainment City gaming district, have been closed since March 15 following the government’s declaration of an emergency for public health. The government prolonged the shutdown on Luzon’s main island until the end of April, after which the government would re-evaluate the situation.
Also assuming the rate of infection is decreasing to the point that the suspension can be lifted, Razon cautioned that restarting the economy – including the gaming industry – “is going to be very tricky, a lot of people are underestimating what this is really going to take.”
Razon also cautioned that shell-shocked customers are likely to “dramatically increase” their savings rate once they return to work, even in the event that forecasts of a ‘echo’ outbreak prove prescient. io”So I don’t think consumer spending will recover that quickly.” Which contrasts with the opinions of Sheldon Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands, who, like Razon, made a repeat appearance on the Forbes Billionaires list this year. Sands execitives recently predicted that the new restrictions on visiting Asia-Pacific casinos would generate “pent-up demand” and that gamblers in the area “would come back in force.”
Like Adelson, Razon used his resources to mitigate the pandemic’s impact. Currently, Razon’s construction unit helps the government turn a sports stadium in Manila into an emergency medical centre. Bloomberry has donated more than $1 m in personal safety devices to emergency personnel on the frontline.
The shutdown of gambling has affected not only the bottom line of local gaming operators, but also that of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which claims its revenue is down $118 million per month. PAGCOR has demanded the right to restart such low-risk / high-volume gaming verticals but these demands have been denied by the government to date.