Crown (ASX:CWN) share price up as Melbourne casino set to reopen

Crown Melbourne is set to reopen its gaming operations this week, however it’s not all fun and games as covid restrictions remain in place.

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The Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN) share price is up by 3.06% so far today, after the gaming titan announced it is looking to reopen its Melbourne property.

Crown Melbourne has received approved to reopen with a raft of restrictions in place, which mean that the property can operate in a limited capacity. 

What does the new gaming operation look like?

The casino operations are expected to commence on Thursday 12 November with a few key changes in place. The changes are mainly to comply with COVID-19 regulations and protect the health and safety of patrons. Social distancing is a key focus, as is density. The Victorian Government has determined these restrictions to be appropriate as the state looks to reopen further this week.

The operational restrictions include:

  • Electronic gaming operations limited to ten designated VIP areas, with each area having a capacity of 10 patrons
  • No smoking is permitted
  • Physical distancing has been put in place, with every second gaming machine and electronic table game being deactivated
  • Patrons only allowed to game for a maximum of 90 mins per day
  • COVID “marshals” will be in place on the floor to monitor the safety
  • Hygiene protocols will be enhanced across the board.

As mentioned, this reopening is planned for Thursday this week. 

Crown’s CEO Ken Barton had this to say:

We have been working for some time with the Victorian Government and health authorities to determine how we safety re-open Crown Melbourne and have developed extensive physical distancing and hygiene measures to allow re-opening in a safe manner. We are pleased to be able to commence the process of welcoming back our employees and customers to Crown Melbourne.

What about retail operations?

The Victorian Government allowed the reopening of retail outlets late last month. However, for Crown Melbourne this looked very different to normal, with only a select few retail outlets permitted to reopen on the property from 28 October. Food and beverage began to reopen from 2 November (last week). 

Additionally, accommodation including Crown Towers is looking to reopen from today (9 November).

Sydney not looking so bright

Last week, Crown was in the news after being told it was “unfit” to run a new $2.2 billion Sydney casino. The issues lie with its culture. In fact, a recent inquiry went so far as to say that Crown had ‘fundamental problems’ with this internal culture. 

Crown was called out and accused of doing business with people linked to crime. Additionally the regulators went on to say that the casino group had allowed money to be laundered at its Australian casinos. Crown dismissed these allegation initially as being unsubstantiated, however they could still cost the company its licence in Sydney.

Crown Sydney remains in limbo while inquiry commissioner Patricia Bergin awaits some suggestions from Crown about how these issues can be addressed. Patricia Bergin is expected to produce a formal report early next year with some recommendations. An uncertain time for Crown Sydney exists until then.

At the time of writing, the Crown share price is up more than 3% at $9.08 per share.

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Motley Fool contributor glennleese has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Crown Resorts Limited. 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.

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