Coronavirus hits LV Sands-owned Macau casinos as packed LV Strip celebrates CNY

sheldon in china sands
Tourists take a ride on a gondola up the man-made canal inside the Venetian Casino and Hotel in Macau. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Of the six known cases of coronavirus in Macau, two are guests at hotels owned by Las Vegas Sands, according to Inside Asian Gaming.  

The publication reports one person confirmed to have the virus was a guest at Sands Cotai Central. Another was a guest at either Sands Cotai Central or Venetian Macau, but was known to have visited both properties in recent days. 

Inside Asian Gaming reports visitation is down 49.9 percent in Macau from last year for the first two days of the celebration. 

“We had to send masks to China,” Wynn Resorts board member Pat Mulroy told the Current. “They ran out.”  

The quarantine of more than 50 million residents in China has yet to put a crimp in Chinese New Year celebrations on the Las Vegas Strip, but hotel companies with casinos in Asia are getting pummeled on the American stock exchange.  

Shares of Wynn Resorts fell 8 percent Monday, Las Vegas Sands was down 6.75 percent, and MGM Resorts International fell 3.86 percent.  

The World Health Organization declined last week to declare an international health emergency, citing in part the potential effects on the global economy.   

“Safeguarding the health of our guests and employees is of the highest importance at all of our resorts,” Las Vegas Sands said in a statement. “In Macau, we have implemented the directives outlined by the Macau government, which include scaling back our Chinese New Year events, temperature screening all guests entering the casino and all employees, and mandating wearing of facemasks. We will implement any additional measures as directed from the government.

Las Vegas casinos that cater to Asian high-rollers are sold out this week for Lunar New Year celebrations, featuring entertainers from throughout China.  

Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver says the hotel has masks available at its Las Vegas properties, if needed.    

“As of this date there are no reported cases of the coronavirus in Las Vegas that we are aware of, however we are in close contact with the Southern Nevada Health District who is monitoring the situation along with the CDC,” Wynn Resorts said in a statement.  “We will implement any health directive they issue.”

The Southern Nevada Health District reports it is not investigating any possible cases of coronavirus.

Culinary Local 226 spokeswoman Bethany Khan says union members such as housekeepers are not taking any special precautions as a result of the coronavirus threat. 

“Workers have access to masks and gloves they need,” says Khan, who says the outbreak is a reminder to everyone to get a flu shot. “The common flu killed 80,000 people in 2017-2018 season, which was high. The average over the last 3 decades was 56,000 a year. Puts things in perspective re: 80 coronavirus deaths.”

The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2017 that upwards of half a million people die each year from respiratory effects of the flu, according to Kaiser News Network.

Dana Gentry
Senior Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.