Gambling giants out of luck as casinos shut

“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for Crown and many others in Australia,” Crown chief executive Ken Barton said in a statement.

Shaw and Partners senior investment advisor Adam Dawes said shareholders had already priced a “worst case scenario” into the casinos’ share prices, and the question was now how long it would take for patrons to return.

“Once you turn the switch off, it’s a lot harder to turn it back on again,” he said. “Confidence will be zapped for a lot of shareholders.”

Meanwhile, fellow gambling giant Tabcorp’s wagering revenue is also under pressure as the curent viability of holding sports and racing events comes under a cloud.

Shares in wagering giant Tabcorp – which has betting terminals in 4000 pubs, clubs and retail betting agencies – fell 14.5 per cent yesterday to $2.14. The stock has halved in value since February 17.

Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough said in a statement the company was working with “governments, regulators, and our venue and racing industry partners to manage the impact on them, our customers and our businesses during this unprecedented period”.

That included encouraging customers to buy tickets and place bets online instead of in pubs or retail outlets.

The $4.4 billion group noted the cancellation of several major sporting codes, such as the AFL, which are important to its wagering business, and said the status of racing “may require further clarification”.

JP Morgan analyst Don Carducci last week said that racing – which makes up 86 per cent of Tabcorp’s wagering revenue – would likely be disrupted, as it had in the UK, with the main threats being the requirement for emergency services workers at thoroughbred tracks and further restrictions on gatherings.

The majority of Tabcorp’s lotteries revenue was at risk from customers stay home rather than venture out to retail centres where they normally buy tickets, Mr Carducci told clients in a note.

Tabcorp said convenience stores that sell its lottery tickets would remain open, and it was expect – but not yet confirmed – that newsagencies would too.

Tabcorp said the situation was “evolving” and could not give specific guidance on how COVID-19 would affect its earnings this year or next.

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