Manila Casino Resorts Remain Closed, as Philippines Extends Lockdown
The four integrated casino resorts in Manila will remain closed for at least another week, as the Philippines extends its lockdown on the capital metro.
Amid escalating new COVID-19 cases and variant strains clogging hospitals, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for Manila and four other metros. Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal also fall under the lockdown directive.
Duterte forced City of Dreams, Okada, Solaire, and Resorts World casinos to fully shutter their gaming and resort operations in March of 2020. They stayed closed through July. When they opened in August, they were limited to operating at a maximum 30 percent capacity.
The controversial Filipino president, who has received much criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, ordered the four integrated resorts to once again close last week through the ECQ proclamation. The lockdown bans all mass gatherings, closes all nonessential businesses, and commands residents to be at home between 6 pm and 5 am.
Duterte’s directive on the five areas impacts some 25 million people.
Government Defends Actions
The Philippines has become an epicenter of COVID-19 and new variant strain spread. The Associated Press reports that only Indonesia has more cases in all of Southeast Asia.
Daily new cases in the Philippines breached 10,000 per day last week. Government-run hospitals have exceeded their capacity limits, the Lung Center of the Philippines in Manila announcing over the weekend that it can no longer accept patients.
“We are not just full. We are very full. In fact, the hospital has been full for the past two weeks,” explained Lung Center spokesperson Dr. Norberto Francisco.
Duterte’s administration, however, is saying that it was impossible to properly prepare for the latest spread.
No one could have foreseen how infectious these new variants are and as a result of which we have these ballooning numbers,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told ABS-CBN News.
Lockdown orders in the Philippines are not to be taken lightly. Reports have emerged that armed police have been instructed by Duterte to detain, beat, and even kill people who violate stay-at-home directives and the nightly curfew.
“My orders to the police and military, if there is trouble and there’s an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead,” Duterte said last year.
Case Load Damages Casino Win
The Philippines is amid an alarming elevation of COVID-19 spread. Weekly new confirmed COVID-19 cases have surged from about 10,000 a week in February, to 71,606 last week.
The prolonged shutdowns of Manila’s casinos have of course devastated the four gaming companies behind the resorts. 2020 gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the four casinos totaled roughly $1.4 billion. That’s down from $3.5 billion in 2019.
Much of the 2020 GGR came as a result of the Philippines allowing the four Manila casinos to conduct online gaming, but only for their known VIP patrons already enrolled in their respective loyalty programs.
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