U.S. gaming stocks tumbled in pre-market trading Tuesday after authorities in China said they would close all casinos in Macau, the world's biggest gambling location, for at least half a month as part of its effort to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Macau, a Chinese territory located southwest of Hong Kong, will close casinos for at least 15 days, starting tomorrow, following the confirmation of at least ten cases of the coronavirus, which has killed 425 people in greater China and infected at least 20,000 others.
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng told reporters Tuesday that the closure could last "for months" if the situation were to worsen, and raised the prospect of border shutdowns with the neighboring prefecture city of Zhuhai.
Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) - Get Report , which generates around 70% of its earnings from Macau gaming, was marked 2.8% lower in pre-market trading at $125.00 each, while rival Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) - Get Report, with around 60% Macau earnings exposure, was seen 3.8% lower at $64.03 per share. MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get Report, meanwhile, were marked 3.25% lower at $30.20 each.
The shutdown appears to have caught gaming executives off guard, as well, given that only days ago, Las Vegas Sands COO Robert Goldstein told investors on an earnings conference call that "we don't anticipate any slowdown as a result of the virus."
"Obviously, it depends on what happens in Macau but as we speak today (January 29) we saw no indication of all of that. And we're full speed ahead on all of our projects in Macau."