“Unconscionable”: Casinos Slammed For Refusing To Close During Coronavirus
"It is unconscionable that a cashed up casino operator would continue business as usual measures.”
Major casinos in Sydney and Melbourne are under fire for their decision to operate amid widespread shutdowns caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The Federal Government placed a ban on ‘non-essential’ gatherings of over 100 people in indoor spaces on Wednesday, a move which could potentially devastate businesses around the country.
But gambling premises somehow seem to avoiding the shutdowns, with only minimal measures being put in place by Star Casino Entertainment Group and Melbourne’s Crown Casino.
“The Star Entertainment Group has today announced it will close its three casinos at a dedicated time each morning to allow for comprehensive cleaning procedures,” CEO Matt Bekier told members in an email this week. “The proactive measure has been taken as a further precautionary response to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.”
Sydney’s Star Casino will be closed 6am to 10am daily, while Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane will shutter from 4am to 8am.
Both the Star Group and Melbourne’s Crown Casino are implementing social distancing measures, involving closing every second pokie machine and reducing capacity at gambling tables.
According to The Guardian, however, restaurants and high roller tables are staying open — and Crown Casino properties in Melbourne and Perth reportedly have an exemption from the government’s measures. Even with the restrictions placed on poker machines, there would still be roughly 1400 of them operating in Melbourne’s casino.
A Change.org petition calling on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to close Crown has so far garnered over 19,000 signatures — and politicians have publicly slammed both Star and Crown’s decision to essentially continue operating as usual during the crisis.
“Star Casino should for once act in the interest of public health and welfare,” Sydney MP Alex Greenwich told Music Junkee. “While businesses across the country are forgoing revenue to keep the community safe — cancelling events, meetings and gatherings — the casino is being reckless to greedily maximise its profit.
“Casinos prey on vulnerable people and their business model is based on these people losing their weekly wage or income support. At a time of increased vulnerability for many, it is unconscionable that a cashed up casino operator would continue business as usual measures.”
Western Australian MP and Greens spokesperson on gambling, Rachel Siewert, called the move “irresponsible”.
“At a time of increased vulnerability for many, it is unconscionable that a cashed up casino operator would continue business as usual measures.”
“It is irresponsible of Star Casino to basically continue operations as usual despite clear Government advice on non-essential gatherings,” she told Music Junkee. “Large organisations and corporations should be looking at ways that can assist the community as we enter this crisis time. I worry that without strong action from all sectors people will be put at risk.”
The news comes just as the music and entertainment industries face the prospect of losing hundreds of millions of dollars over the next six months, due to cancelled tours, festivals, and venue closures.
Music Junkee has contacted NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s office for comment, along with the Star Entertainment Group and Crown.
Star Entertainment provided this comment: “The Star is actively engaging with government and working through our specific position given we operate in a precinct fashion. We will adhere to any direct recommendations we receive.”
Photo Credit: Star Entertainment Group