Australian casino operator Crown separates gamers to beat coronavirus

(Reuters) – Australia’s Crown Resorts is introducing “social distancing” at its Melbourne casino in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

Crown said on Monday it will keep gamblers apart by switching off every second gaming machine and electronic table, barring standing players at seated table games, and restricting the number of players at stand-up table games to five.

The company will also restrict the number of patrons in its banqueting and conference facilities to 450 people “with a prescribed maximum density.”

The moves by Crown, which the company said were approved by state health officials, come a day after the Australian government advised against non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people.

The practice of “social distancing” has been adopted by several countries, halting sporting, cultural and religious events.

Crown shares were down 9.5% in morning trade on the Australian stock exchange, outpacing a 4.5% fall on the broader market.

Closing its Melbourne casino would be a significant blow for Crown, which reported a slump in gambling turnover from Chinese high rollers, a key demographic, in the half year just ended.

Crown said it has also implemented other measures at its Melbourne and Perth properties, including greater frequency of cleaning and the provision of hand sanitizer.

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