Macau won’t renew 100 foreign casino execs’ work permits


macau-foreign-casino-exec-work-permitsMacau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group has tapped gaming industry veteran Scott Kreeger to oversee the expansion of its flagship Galaxy Macau property.

This week, GEG announced that it had hired Kreeger, the former president and COO of the SLS Las Vegas casino, as its director of operations development, new resort. Kreeger, who stepped down from SLS on December 31, has also done stints with gaming operators MGM Resorts and Station Casinos.

News of Kreeger’s appointment came shortly after comments from Macau legislators regarding the future of foreign casino executives. A plenary session of Macau’s Legislative Assembly on Monday featured Labor Affairs Bureau (DSAL) director Wong Chi Hong detailing its progress in boosting the number of local residents in gaming industry management positions.

Macau’s original Five-Year Development Plan contained a goal of seeing local residents make up at least 85% of casino upper and middle management positions by 2020. DSAL figures showed the actual number hitting 84.8% in September 2016, and so the government had advanced its timetable for hitting the 85% target to sometime in 2017.

However, the Macau Daily Times quoted Wong going on to say that there were “over 100 non-local workers on resort facility management. And we have already told the gaming companies we will not renew those work permits.” The report offered no further insight as to when those international execs’ work permits might expire.

Wong’s comments were referenced in Wednesday’s analyst call with Las Vegas Sands’ top brass. Asked for comment regarding Wong’s statement and the future of their non-local execs in Macau, Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson and president Rob Goldstein would only say that they supported the government’s efforts to see local residents assume a greater role in the gaming industry.

However nonchalant Adelson and Goldstein might wish to appear on this issue, the government’s ability and/or willingness to turf senior management at the drop of a hat could prove significant if US President Donald Trump’s bellicose stance toward China progresses beyond the rhetorical stage.

As our own Rafi Farber observed, Beijing would likely not hesitate to single out Sands as a convenient whipping boy to indicate its displeasure with US foreign policy, particularly given Adelson’s close ties to Trump. In the near term, at least, any top Sands exec who isn’t permanently residing in one of the company’s Macau hotels would be wise to renew their local property leases on a month-by-month basis.