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The ASX shares directly hit by the COVID-19 shutdown

It’s a terrifying day for ASX investors as the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index:^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) dived nearly 6% after governments moved to shut down non-essential businesses from midday today.

If you have been caught off-guard by the coronavirus-induced market meltdown, you aren’t alone although that knowledge may bring little comfort during these distressing times.

The businesses that will be forced to shutter for at least a few months include pubs, clubs, cinemas, casinos, gyms, indoor sporting venues, nightclubs and places of worship, according to the ABC.

From that list, you can probably see how a number of ASX-listed companies will be directly affected. Otherwise, their big share price crash today might give the game away.

King hit

One obvious casualty from the unprecedented order from federal and state governments is Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN). Luckily the stock is suspended or it would have taken a massive share price hit.

In a statement to the ASX after the market closed today, Australia’s largest casino operator said it will cease all gaming activities and close all food and beverage, banqueting and conference facilities that don’t offer takeaway food services.

It’s a nervous time for Crown’s employees, which number 18,500 across Melbourne and Perth. Management didn’t provide any details on job losses.

The unemployment rate is probably the most important statistics that ASX investors should be watching, more so than the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, as I’ve explained here.

Losing bets

Crown isn’t alone. Another stock that’s tumbling in sympathy to the casino industry is gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL). The Aristocrat share price crashed 12% to $15.44 even though it doesn’t operate any venues.

But if its customers are hurting, so will Aristocrat. It’s growing social gaming division may provide some offset as more people in isolation turn to online gaming, but this isn’t enough to convince buyers to step up to support the stock.

Another venue operator that caters to punters is Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX: TAH). It’s share price took a 13.2% smackdown to $2.18 after management announced the temporary closure of a number of its licensed venues.

But the news gets worse. TAB agencies offering wagering and other services may also be made to close and the cancellation and postponement of several major sporting events will hurt its business.

Leisure companies in the firing line

Meanwhile, Leisure facilities operator Ardent Leisure Group Ltd (ASX: ALG) is also taking a king hit. The Ardent Leisure share price plummeted 359% to 12 cents shut down its key theme parks in Queensland as of today.

“Following the Queensland State and Federal Government’s  most recently announced measures regarding social distancing, including restrictions on non-essential indoor and mass gatherings, the Board of Ardent has made the decision to temporarily cease operating Dreamworld and Whitewater World,” said the company in a statement to the ASX.

“In light of Government restrictions and the high level of uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the decision has been made to cease operations until 31 May 2020.”

The company will only retain skeletal staff for care and maintenance of the parks and animals.

Poor showing

Event Hospitality and Entertainment Ltd (ASX: EVT) also issued a statement to the ASX today. It announced it will close its cinemas and licensed venues in response to the government’s directive. Management is making staff draw down on their leave entitlements but said taking unpaid leave will be inevitable.

“Due to the escalating public health risks associated with Coronavirus, the Group has decided to also close its New Zealand cinemas,” said the company.

“The Group is in the process of assessing the impact of the Government announcement relating to food and beverage areas on its Hotel and Thredbo businesses.”

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Motley Fool contributor Brendon Lau owns shares of Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Crown Resorts Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Event Hospitality & Entertainment. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.