Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group is limiting access to its flagship Sydney casino due to a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections in a neighbouring state.
Last Friday, The Star announced new rules for guests seeking to enter The Star Sydney casino. The announcement came after the New South Wales government issued a health order putting a 300-person ceiling on all indoor hospitality venues – restaurants, clubs, pubs, casinos, etc. – effective Friday at 12:01am.
As a result, The Star said its Sydney venue would impose the 300-person limit on each separate area within the casino. The company said it was implementing operating procedures to comply with the new rules, including ways of chopping up its 20k-square-meter casino floor into defined spaces that will observe the state’s required four-square-meters of space per patron.
However, The Star said the changes would require it to prioritize visitation by its “highest value patrons.” The company attempted to reassure investors by noting that, during the 12 days ending June 30 when it was limited to 900 patrons at a time, average daily gaming revenue was comparable to VIP gaming levels during the first half of its fiscal year (pre-COVID). The casino will also reduce staffing “to reflect the new environment.”
NSW officials imposed the new rules following a serious outbreak of new COVID-19 infections just over the border in the state of Victoria. In just one day last week, Victoria reported 300 new cases and six deaths. Earlier this month, Victoria effectively locked down the city of Melbourne, forcing The Star rival Crown Resorts to scrap plans to reopen its local casino.
Like Crown Melbourne, The Star was forced to close its Sydney property in March along with other non-essential retail operations, and it wasn’t until June 1 that the property reopened on an invitation-only basis. Come July 1, The Star lifted those restrictions, welcoming back up to 5k guests onto its property at any one time.
The reopening hasn’t been without its glitches, as the company was fined AU$5k this month for allowing customers to quaff alcohol while standing and mingling. A patron also tested positive, prompting lots of contact tracing to figure out how many other guests and casino staff may have interacted with said patron.