Saturday, March 14, 2020

World’s Gambling Capital Now Off Limits To Filipinos

Wazzup Pilipinas!

As restrictions around the world continue to intensify in the face of the ongoing threat from the CORVID-19 coronavirus, citizens both at home in the Philippines and further afield are facing the prospect of having to cancel their travel plans. Long-planned vacations are being put on hold, work-trips are postponed, and all-but essential flights are now expressly discouraged. For anyone who was considering taking a trip to Macau, the gambling capital of the world, we have bad news. Not only are all flights to the gambling mecca now banned, but anyone who’s already out there is being brought home.

Macau's rise to its current position as the world's premier gambling location is a somewhat unlikely one - especially given the fact that it's technically part of China, and China strictly prohibits all gambling. One theory behind its success is that unlike Las Vegas in America, it hasn't been affected by the growth of online slots websites. Across the bulk of the United States mainland, it's legal to play Fluffy Favourites UK from the comfort of your own home, and so a trip to Vegas is no longer necessary to experience a gambling thrill. By contrast, the countries around Macau tend to restrict access to online slots, with some making the activity completely illegal. Even here in the Philippines, where online slots are legal, we've seen the Government take a harder line on the activity within the past twelve months. With no other means of indulging in their hobby, gamblers from all over the region head to Macau for their fun.

Unfortunately for the gambling companies of Macau and the workers there whose livelihoods depend on it, Macau may not be welcoming visitors for the foreseeable future. Most predictions say that the coronavirus has not yet peaked in terms of contagion and spread, and won't do so until the early summer. That's likely to make conditions in Macau even harder than they were in February, where profits fell 90% in a single month, and the city effectively closed itself down voluntarily in an attempt to prevent the virus from making its way there. Since then, some of the casinos in the city have opened themselves up again to locals, but foreign visitors are hard to find on the streets. The coronavirus will eventually pass, but the question of whether Macau can survive long enough to still be there when the all-clear arrives is hard to answer. At least some of the casinos there will be unable to pay their staff this month, and will likely be closed permanently by May or June.

The Filipinos that the Government has chosen to repatriate from Macau are believed to have been employed within the casino industry there. Some of them have already been placed on permanent leave as their casinos are temporarily closed, and can probably expect that their jobs won't be waiting there for them if and when they're allowed to return to Macau. A specially-chartered flight was arranged for 148 Filipino citizens on Tuesday March 3rd, and more are expected to follow. A full record of every Filipino native living in Macau doesn't exist, but based on the available information it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that at least 35,000 Filipino nationals live within the city. Travel between Macau and the Philippines had previously been banned by the Filipino Government in January, so some of those now boarding flights will effectively have been trapped in their host city and waiting to come home for almost two whole months without money. Those who are now coming home are understood to have either student or working visas. Many of the Filipino workers in the city are thought to be undocumented or working illegally. Their fate remains unknown.

Macau isn't the only nearby city or state full of Filipino workers looking to return home. Many care workers in Hong Kong are Filipino by birth, and they've also recently been told that their services are no longer required as people in Hong Kong try to guard against the threat of the virus. Like the situation in Macau, many of those workers have been trapped by a travel ban between Hong Kong and the Philippines, and have been struggling to survive without permanent accommodation or an income. The Government has said that getting the worst-affected of these citizens home is being treated as a priority and that a chartered flight will be sent to Hong Kong to collect them in the very near future.

So far, it isn't clear what restrictions might be placed on the movements of those returning home. There have been recorded cases of COVID-19 in both Hong Kong and Macau, and so as with travelers coming from any affected area, there is a risk of infection. It may be that everyone on board the flights is quarantined upon landing in the Philippines and will only be allowed to move once the risk of transmission or infection has passed. It could also be that the citizens are being tested in Macau and Hong Kong before being allowed to board their flights home. In either eventuality, the Government has assured citizens that every possible effort is being made to ensure that the virus doesn't come to the Philippines with the flights.

So far, the extent of the spread of COVID-19 within the Philippines has been minimal, with less than ten recorded cases at the time of writing. That figure is expected to go up, though, and any flight activity to or from countries where infections are more common increases the risk of a significant outbreak. The more Filipinos attempt to return home from abroad, the greater the risk becomes. As an example, more than four hundred of the crew aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan are Filipinos. All of them are understood to have returned to the country and are currently subject to quarantine. The latest reports suggest that none of them have yet shown any signs of carrying the virus.

As always, the situation with the coronavirus is fluid and fast-changing. All information provided within this article was correct at the time of writing, but pay attention to live news feeds and television broadcasts for the latest updates on the fight against the illness. Citizens are reminded to wash their hands, avoid physical contact with strangers wherever possible, and avoid travel across long distances unless absolutely necessary.

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1 comment:

  1. It's not very pleasant, but this problem is easy to solve. We all have access to the internet, so it's very easy to gamble while in another country and transfer money. For example, I use an Austrian page for this. It is very convenient and there is also information on payment methods.


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