According to Reuters, casinos in SA reopening after 3 months is a huge relief for the gambling industry. The COVID-19 pandemics put a stop to so many activities, including casinos. Just like every other country, the South Africa casino industry was also affected. Casino companies like Tsogo Sun Gaming and so many others lost billions of rands.
However, the government has eased down the measures taken to curb the pandemic. One of such measures includes providing guidelines that the casino industry must follow.
As a matter of fact, the casino industry breathed a huge sigh of relief after the government allowed their businesses to reopen. Although the reopening was welcomed, the industry does not expect to see most of their ardent gamblers.
According to Ruben Gooranah, the general manager at Time Square casino, they wouldn’t be opening the tables downstairs because they don’t know if most customers will come to the casino.
In fact, the reopening came as a surprise to most people. Meanwhile, they are strict measures that every casino operating in South Africa must follow.
Restrictions Casinos Should Follow
Some of the measures put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic at the SA casinos are;
- Seating arrangement
Before now, most casinos were packed full, especially during the weekends. The situation at hand will no longer allow such clustering. Consequently, to maintain social distancing, casinos are only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. For instance, at the Boardwalk Casino in South Africa, every second slot machine will be off.
- Face mask and shield
No customer will be allowed into the casino without their face mask or shield. Also, workers at the casino are not left out. Before the opening of most casinos, staff members were seen wearing a face shield.
- Physical barriers
The casinos must ensure that there are physical barriers between customers and dealers.
- Smoking indoors
Customers will no longer be allowed to smoke inside the casino. Any form of smoking indoors at the casino is strictly prohibited.
- Prohibition of on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages
More or less consumption of alcoholic beverages will no longer be allowed within the premises of the casino. This most likely means that casinos may no longer sell alcohol.
- Switching off every second slot machine
No casino in South Africa is allowed to operate every second slot machine. Just as mentioned above, there must be a physical barrier or shield separating each slot machine.
- Limit to number of tables
Not all the tables at the casino will be functional. For example, the Tsogo Sun Gaming will have to shut down the operations of most of their casino tables to avoid crowding.
How Did the SA Gambling Industry Survive During a Lockdown?
Obviously, the lockdown was biting especially for the casino industry in South Africa. It is almost impossible that they would keep paying their staff during the lockdown. A lot of them had to lay off staff to keep afloat.
Another way out for the SA gambling industry was to fall back to their online customers. Certainly, no one was allowed to leave their homes during the lockdown. Most likely, a lot of gamblers would have patronized the online casinos hoping to cash out some winnings.
Consequently, apart from other measures, it is clear that the SA Gambling Industry survived during the lockdown via their online services. Experts believe that online casino patronage was high during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, to survive the damage caused by the lockdown, most casinos in South Africa may be looking at raising some money through a rights issue.
The Prognosis for the Future
The future of South Africa’s gambling industry rests predominately on their ability to embrace online gambling. It is on record that casino companies that had an online presence did not experience so much loss like other physical casinos.
In other countries, most casinos have embraced online gambling. The gains are so much compared to running physical casinos. Assuming that was the case in South Africa, the losses recorded during the lockdown would have been minimal. Imagine what 2 billion Rand ($116.05 million) would have done for Tsogo Sun Gaming. According to the casino’s record, they recorded 2 billion rands in losses.
Modern players want to play from the comfort of their homes using their mobile devices. Other reasons players are gambling online include privacy, convenience, security, and so on.
The earlier South Africa’s gambling industry switches its focus to online gambling, the better off they will be.
Will the SA Gambling Industry Bounce Back?
An industry that contributes about 1 percent of the economy’s revenue needs to be taken seriously. Statistics have shown that the gambling industry was growing above 4 percent before the COVID-19 outbreak. Similarly in 2018, it generated more than 18 billion rands.
To sum it up, measures ought to be taken to ensure that the gambling industry bounces back even better post-COVID-19.