Tag Archive : Covid19

Canadian Blockchain Startup Unveils – Civitas App to Fight COVID-19

As per the recent blockchain news, a Canada-based blockchain startup Emerge has come up with a blockchain application named Civitas App to fight against the existing global health crisis in Latin America. The startup announced that the app is aimed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 by ‘reducing gatherings in tight spaces’.

How will the App Work? 

The software integrated into the app will tally the locals’ government ID numbers with unique blockchain records. This will allow the authorities to determine is a person qualifies to be permitted for his/her home. Moreover, the app will also guide COVID-19 symptomatic citizens as to what is the safest time for them to go out for shopping essentials. This will essentially reduce the chances of them spreading the virus.

Blockchain Technology Actively Fighting the Global Pandemic

Countries across the world are using blockchain technology to overcome the detrimental effects of COVID-19. Here are a couple of examples.

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) is using the technology to check the digital identity of citizens for various governmental processes. It has also implemented blockchain-based chat systems to digitally authenticate official certificates and other documents.

The idea is to ensure that citizens can get this sort of work done from the comfort of their homes, and reduce the chances of being affected by the virus. 

The present scenario has also brought about a supply-demand crunch, thus inflating prices of essential items like medicines. To counter this problem,  Netherlands-based distributed ledger technology firm Tymlez has proposed its blockchain solution to optimize the supply chain of medical goods and control the soaring prices.

Lockdown in Central America

About 3 million citizens of Honduras are currently under lockdown and are facing heavy penalties if they violate quarantine protocols.  

In Honduras, the app will enable doctors to track patient symptoms and suggest relevant medical care to them. Such data will be available to both the users and healthcare officials while maintaining the utmost privacy. 

Similarly, other countries across the world are also under strict lockdown, and blockchain is definitely one of the go-to technologies that governments across the world have adopted. 

Bank of International Settlements (BIS) bets on CBDCs and digital payments amid COVID-19

As per the recent reports, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has placed its bets on Central Bank issued Digital Currencies and digital payments. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the BIS has published a report, seeking central banks across the world to start developing CBDCs. The BIS is a 600-member international financial institution that represents as many as 60 central banks across the globe. 

The World Health Organization issued a warning recently in regard to the spreading of COVID-19 via banknotes. The BIS report suggests that there has been a negative sentiment among the public in using cash, post WHO’s announcement. In its report, BIS argued that credit card terminals and pin pads also a potential risk to the spreading of the deadly virus. It says, “Scientific evidence suggests that the probability of transmission via banknotes is low when compared with other frequently-touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads.”

In this scenario, the BIS has actively argued for the necessity of CBDCs and digital payments. However, the report suggested that these CBDCs should be developed in a manner that can withstand pandemics and cyber attacks. It stressed on the fact that the current risks of transacting in cash and credit cards could well end up being a catalyst to the prominence and adoption of CBDCs. Despite its inclination towards CBDCs, BIS also acknowledged the fact that doing away with cash and going completely digital could exclude the unbanked section of the society.

The report says, “Looking ahead, developments could speed up the shift toward digital payments. This could open a divide in access to payment instruments, which could negatively impact unbanked and older consumers. The pandemic may amplify calls to defend the role of cash – but also calls for central bank digital currencies.”

Cash transaction trend declines in the UK

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the demand for cash has somewhat reduced in the UK. ATM withdrawal rates have also plummeted. BIS predicts that this horrific global health crisis could drive consumers towards higher precautionary holdings of cash and increased mobile, card and online payments.

Santa Clara County shutters recreational marijuana take-out under COVID-19 shutdown

Cannabis dispensaries in the Bay Area’s most populous county are closing their doors to recreational users under new orders.

Santa Clara County has stopped allowing for in-store purchases of marijuana for non-medical customers, according to the county website. The change in policy apparently occurred in the last couple days.

Recreational users can still have marijuana delivered to their homes in the county, but only those who are prescribed cannabis by a doctor will still be able to pick it up in person.

Read the rest of this story on MercuryNews.com.

Covid-19 Crisis Pushes Caesars-Eldorado Merger to June

The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the travel, gaming, and hospitality industries has delayed the $17.3 billion merger of casino operators Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Eldorado Resorts and it is now due to close in June.

A source with firsthand knowledge of the matter told CNBC that the deal is definitely moving forward, despite reports from recent weeks that the unfolding global Covid-19 crisis could derail the mega-merger.

The transaction needs approval from gaming regulators in states where Caesars and Eldorado operate properties.

However, the coronavirus stormed through the US casino and hospitality sectors in an unprecedented manner, grinding commercial casino operations to a halt and forcing regulatory bodies to put the $17.3 billion merger on the back burner.

Reports emerged over the past several weeks that the coronavirus crisis could change the way regulators view the massive debt that goes along with the Caesars-Eldorado combination and eventually derail the deal.

Caesars and Eldorado await approval from Indiana, Nevada, and New Jersey regulators. The Federal Trade Commission also needs to sign off on the merger.

Nevada Still Investigating

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chair Tony Alamo said that the regulator is still investigating the deal and that it “is going like any other merger […] it’s just going through the process, which includes a normal investigation.”

Caesars and Eldorado previously expected to close the deal by mid-April, but according to multiple sources, this is now likely to happen in June.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s next meeting is scheduled to take place in April. In New Jersey, the state Casino Control Commission is likely to hold its next meeting on May 13.

Caesars, Eldorado Have Enough Liquidity amid Coronavirus Pandemic

A highly placed source told CNBC that both casino operators have enough liquidity to last for well over a year, even though their properties across North America are currently closed and will remain closed for unspecified time.

According to the source, Caesars currently has $3 billion on its balance sheet. The recent sale of its Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino property in Las Vegas for $460 million provided the company with additional cash.

If Eldorado closes a $230 million sale of two casinos in Mississippi and Missouri to Twin River Worldwide Holdings in the coming two months, it would head into the Caesars combination with $850 million on hand.

The highly placed CNBC source said that “the deal was constructed with a balance sheet to survive a crisis, with ample liquidity and no debt maturities until 2024.”

In addition, Eldorado and Caesars have secured firm financing commitment from 11 banks and intend to close the deal as it is, because any changes could require a new shareholder vote and a renewed effort at procuring financing.

The two companies’ shareholders approved the combination late last year.

Eldorado is currently paying a ticking fee of $2.3 million a day to Caesars shareholders for failing to close the deal within a nine-month period after it was first announced. A late June closure would raise the merger’s price tag to $17.5 billion.

According to insiders, the ticking fee is considered rather insignificant given the size of the deal and the anticipated benefits both companies would reap.

Some Caesars Properties Start Taking Reservations

On March 17, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a statewide 30-day casino shutdown as part of a set of measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The dangerous virus is ranging on across the US and the rest of the world, but some Caesars properties in Nevada have begun taking reservations.

The company’s Flamingo Las Vegas property tweeted last night that they are “currently taking reservations for April 17th and beyond, but the situation remains fluid.” The tweet read further that “Caesars Entertainment will monitor the evolving situation and work with our local officials on a confirmed reopening date.”

Source: Caesars-Eldorado merger moving forward

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Macau Casino Revenue Slumps 80% in March amid Covid-19 Outbreak

Casino revenue in Macau sunk 79.7% year-on-year in March, according to data released Wednesday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

The city’s gambling venues generated just under MOP5.3 billion (approx. $664 million) last month as extraordinary measures invoked to curb the advance of the coronavirus drastically reduced patronage from Mainland China gamblers.

Gaming revenue accounts for around 80% of Macau’s entire revenue, while visitors from Mainland China represent around 90% of tourists arriving to the city.

The March revenue figure was in line with analyst expectations for a monthly drop of between 80% and 82%.

On a month-on-month basis, gaming revenue in the only Chinese territory where casino gambling is legal improved 69.4% from February when Macau’s casinos tallied just around MOP3.1 billion (approx. $391.4 million) due to a 14-day shutdown ordered by the city’s government in a bid to stem the tide of the coronavirus.

Stern Measures Hit March Revenue

Macau’s casinos were open throughout March after the 14-day shutdown in February, but health and travel restrictions impacted their revenue significantly.

Last week, officials in the city’s neighboring mainland province of Guangdong imposed a 14-day quarantine requirement for people arriving in the province from Macau and Hong Kong. The requirement applies to Guangdong residents who have traveled to Macau and have returned home.

In addition, it was last week again when Macau authorities banned entry by tourists from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan who had traveled overseas and implemented a 14-day quarantine requirement for those arriving from Hong Kong. Last week’s ban followed previous restrictions on entry by foreign visitors and non-resident workers.

According to Macau’s Public Security Police, the city received around 230 tourists this past Sunday and around 270 tourists on Monday. The daily average in 2019 stood at around 108,000 visits per day, based on the annual tally for that year of just under 40 million.

Macau Expects Massive Drop in Full-Year Gaming Revenue

Including the March result, Macau’s casinos have generated MOP30.5 billion (approx. $3.9 billion) so far this year, down 60% year-on-year. The city said it expects a 56% drop in gross gaming revenue this year to around MOP130 billion (approx. $16.3 billion).

Macau officials last year forecast that its casinos would generate somewhere around MOP260 billion (approx. $32.8 billion) in 2020.

Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky said that “forecasts for 2020 remain largely guesses at this time, with constantly changing conditions altering expectations on an almost daily basis.”

Macau’s six casino operators are believed to be losing between $1.5 million and $4 million a day to keep their gambling venues running. Three of them – Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts – are also bleeding money in their homeland as the US has become the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic with more than 188,000 confirmed cases and all of the nation’s commercial casinos are currently shut.

Source: Macau’s gaming revenues tumble 80% in March, hit by coronavirus

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Cambodian Casinos Ordered to Close as Covid-19 Cases Rise

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen today ordered the nationwide closure of casinos as the tally of coronavirus cases keeps climbing in the Southeast Asian nation.

The country reported four new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infected people to 107.

One of the latest cases included a 30-year-old man who had worked at a casino and a karaoke club near Cambodia’s border with Thailand, according to a statement from the country’s Ministry of Health.

The temporary closure of Cambodia’s casinos becomes effective from 23:59 pm on April 1, Prime Minister Hun Sen said during a news conference held earlier today.

The Asian country’s top official said that he “would like to clarify to various gamblers that if you want to gamble, do it tonight […] there is still tonight and tomorrow night.”

Cambodia is among the late adopters of stern measures to arrest the advance of the coronavirus after Prime Minister Hun Sen had tried to downplay the seriousness of the disease early on. The official had even criticized local coverage of the global pandemic for blowing it out of proportion.

Coronavirus cases have begun to increase rapidly in Cambodia in recent days, which necessitated urgent measures to help stem the spread of the virus. Last week, the country’s government ordered the temporary closure of restaurants and bars and introduced limits to entry visas for foreigners.

Tax Exemptions During Shutdown

Prime Minister Hun Sen said today that the Finance Ministry will work with the country’s casinos on tax exemptions while they are closed. In recent years, Cambodia has become a boon for casino gaming activity, drawing patrons mainly from Mainland China, but also from other countries in the region.

The country’s leader said that the casino closures were only temporary and that the gambling venues would be allowed to resume operations once “the situation stabilizes.”

As of December 2019, there were 125 casinos operating around Cambodia, the majority of them run by Chinese nationals. Most of the gambling venues are located along the nation’s borders and in the Sihanoukville Province in the southwest.

The only casino resort located in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is operated by gaming and hospitality operator NagaCorp. The property generated an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2019.

The temporary shutdown of Cambodia’s casinos comes as a fresh heavy blow to its gaming industry after Prime Minister Hun Sen banned the provision of online gambling services from within the country late last year.

The move resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs and dozens of casinos around Cambodia closing. Most of the country’s online gaming businesses were set up by Chinese companies and targeted gamblers from China where digital gambling is prohibited.

Source: Cambodia PM orders casinos shut down as coronavirus cases climb

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BlockApps Collab with Optimum to Address Energy Crisis Amid COVID-19

As per the latest reports, Blockchain as a Service company BlockApps has collaborated with software consultancy firm Optimum. As a part of this partnership, BlockApps and Optimum will build a blockchain platform for tracking energy usage. 

About BlockApps and Optimum

Optimum is involved in the oil and gas, manufacturing and construction industries. On the other hand, BlockApps is the developer of a cloud-agnostic blockchain platform, named STRATO. Both of these firms will be working together to develop and implement various application integrations for STRATO. 

BlockApps and Optimum acknowledged the extreme crisis in the global energy industry, owing to the diminishing oil sector and relevant supply chains causing economic imbalance amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Goals

Optimum clarified that it aims to use BlockApps’ STRATO platform to address the challenges in the oil and gas, manufacturing and construction sectors by harnessing blockchain technology. 

As of now, the US crude oil prices are at an all-time low and the industry is facing an extreme supply and storage reserve shortage due to a massive downfall in global demand. 

Other Partnerships

Last year BlockApps collaborated with the agricultural wing of pharmaceutical and life science company Bayer AG to execute a series of blockchain initiatives. Moreover, BlockApps is continuously integrating its offerings with cloud services like Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform.  

Gambling.com online casino revenue showing “positive trend” in COVID-19 update

Gambling.com has released a trading update amid the COVID-19 pandemic outlining the group’s current performance and cost-saving measures.

Revenue for January and February totalled €2.4m ($2.7m), down 27% year-on-year, while adjusted EBITDA was €390,000, a fall of 67%.

The group expects the cancellation and postponement of sporting events to have “a meaningful negative impact” on revenue, with sports betting revenue accounting for less than 20% of total revenue during the two months.

Online casino is the group’s largest segment and has been “displaying a positive trend” during the situation.

The group has implemented cost-reduction measures to counter the negative impact of the virus, which it estimates will result in ongoing quarterly savings of €150,000, in addition to a temporary measure in Q2 which should save approximately €300,000.

The Gambling.com Group saw total revenue of €17.3m for the FY 2019, a rise of 6% year-on-year, while adjusted EBITDA was €3.6m, down 39%.

Gambling.com CEO Charles Gillespie said overall growth in 2019 was “weighed down” by the UK and Swedish markets, while in all other markets the group saw organic growth of 112%.

GVC Ups Social Responsibility Practices during Covid-19 Pandemic

Multi-brand gambling group GVC Holdings on Friday announced that it would implement a set of practices to strengthen its responsible gambling safeguards amid the coronavirus pandemic.

GVC’s Friday announcement came just hours after the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the independent body representing all sectors of UK’s gambling industry, unveiled a 10-pledge action plan that set out the standards expected of its members during the unprecedented global crisis.

The coordinated approach introduced by the BGC urged betting and gaming operators servicing UK customers to up their customer protection and responsible marketing practices to ensure that the highest standards are implemented in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak.

As people are urged to stay home, self-isolating, to help contain the spread of the virus, online gambling operators, particularly ones offering digital casino-style products, have seen increased activity on their websites and across apps.

And that increased gaming activity has prompted concerns that more people are now at risk of developing problem behavior or addiction and calls for the industry to take actions against this.

GVC’s Upgraded Safeguards

GVC said that it would be proactively communicating with “all customers, across all Group brands and in all territories” to remind them to gamble responsibly and direct them to its set of safer gambling tools.

The company currently offers tools for deposit and time limits and self exclusion. It said Friday that it is set to roll out curfew setting, stake limit setting on slots, and reverse withdrawal settings in the coming weeks.

GVC also noted that it has added two new Markers of Harm indicators to its safer gambling algorithm that aim to enable it to identify potentially problematic gambling behavior at an early stage while a gambler is home-isolating.

To urge gamblers to gamble in a safe and responsible manner, the operator said that it would increase responsible gambling messaging throughout its websites and would run multi-channel responsible gambling marketing campaigns.

Finally, GVC said that it would monitor and take actions to prevent affiliates “from referencing the pandemic or encouraging excessive play due to boredom or isolation.” The company would provide its third-party advertising partners with a specific blacklist of banned terms they will not be able to use in their marketing campaigns.

Covid-19 Eats Into GVC Earnings

In an update on the expected impact from the global coronavirus spread and the cancellation/postponenment of sports amid the global pandemic, GVC said that it expects big impact on its full-year performance.

The company said that assuming there would be substantially fewer sporting events through August 2020, it expected its full-year EBITDA to be reduced by £130-£150 million. The closure of GVC’s betting shops across the UK is expected to reduce GVC’s EBITDA by an additional £45-£50 million per month.

The cancellation of horse racing in the UK is estimated to cut the operator’s EBITDA by an additional £20-£25 million per month.

Source: GVC introduces additional safer gambling safeguards and welcomes coordinated industry action led by the Betting and Gaming Council

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Caesars Laid Off 3,200 Casino Workers ahead of Covid-19 Closures

Caesars Entertainment Corp. informed the Nevada employment department that it would lay off thousands of casino workers in the face of the coronavirus crisis just days before it was forced to close its properties in the state, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

In a letter to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation dated March 14, the casino giant said that it would cut its workforce by 3,200 employees due to uncertainties and disruptions stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caesars also noted that the job cuts would take place on March 15. The letter, obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal, said that given the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, “we are unable to make a determination as to whether the layoff will be temporary or permanent.”

A day after the letter was posted, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued an order that all non-essential businesses across the state close for a 30-day period to help curb the spread of the highly contagious virus that has gripped the world.

Caesars’ Letter Violates Law

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 requires employers to provide the state with notice at least 60 days in advance. However, Caesars said in its letter that the rapid spread of Covid-19 triggered financial fallout that required urgent measures.

The Las Vegas casino company is one of many in the sector to be dismissing thousands of employees in response to the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the gaming, hospitality, and travel industries.

On Friday, major regional casino operator Penn National Gaming said that it would place 26,000 employees on furlough for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

The recent Caesars workforce cut affected employees at its flagship property Caesars Palace as well as at Planet Hollywood, Harrah’s, Bally’s, The Cromwell Hotel, The LINQ, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Paris, and Flamingo, among others.

In its letter to Nevada’s employment department, the company said that the layoff was the result “of an unforseeable circumstance.”

Coronavirus Could Derail Mega-Merger

Caesars is in the middle of a $17.3 billion tie-up with Reno-based fellow casino operator Eldorado Resorts. The deal was anticipated to close by late March or early April, but this timeframe can no longer be pursued due to the disruptions created by the coronavirus outbreak.

Caesars and Eldorado need to secure regulatory clearance in all states where they run properties. Regulators in some of those have already blessed the mega-deal, but others have put it on the back burner to focus on more pressing issues.

Nevada’s gaming watchdog is not likely to vote on the merger until at least mid-April, while its New Jersey counterpart can approve it as early as May when its next meeting is scheduled to take place.

Eldorado has now started paying Caesars around $2.3 million in ticking fees because the deal failed to close by March 25, or around nine months after it was announced.

Earlier this month, the CEO of the Reno-based casino operator seemed enthusiastic about its combination with Caesars. However, that enthusiasm can eventually get thinner if Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc in the casino world.

And if Eldorado decides to back off from the deal, it will have to pay a break-up fee of $800-plus-million which, according to experts, could force the company into bankruptcy.

Source: Four days before closing casinos, Caesars gave notice that 3,200 workers would be cut

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