Macau encourages operators and junkets to avoid layoffs


Macau concessionaire employees have one less thing to worry about as their industry is crushed by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Although many were worried they’d lose their jobs as a result of the economic downturn the territory is currently facing, they’ve discovered a friend in their industry’s regulator.

macau-encourages-operators-and-junkets-to-avoid-layoffsSeveral outlets are reporting Macau’s Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has sent letters to the six casino concessionaires, encouraging them to avoid layoffs. It emphasized that “maintaining social responsibility is one of the priorities of the Macau SAR Government.” It also emphasized the concessionaires’ responsibility. “In this difficult period, companies should make every effort to ensure the employment of employees and maintain a stable labor market.”

This emphasis had an impact on atleast one company that planned to cut costs. A major junket operator had informed employees that 200 of them would be losing their jobs. It reversed this decision after receiving pressure from the DICJ.

In February, the Macau Gaming Labor Group published a survey taken during Macau’s mandated 15 day casino shutdown. In that survey, 53% of employees noted a fear of losing their job due to COVID-19, with 75.5% showing a more general fear that their take home pay would be reduced.

Now that Macau casinos have re-opened, the damage of travel bans and fearful customers is continuing to reduce revenues. February revenues fell off a cliff, and analysts expect the territory may not recover fully until Q3, 2020.

Not helping matters are additional travel bans on travelers from newly infected countries. Visitors from Iran, Italy, South Korea, France, Germany, Japan and Spain all must undergo mandatory 8 hour quarantines before being allowed into Macau. Officials noted they are following the spread of the disease, and may extend the quarantine to all of Europe.

That’s leaving increasingly few options for Macau to find revenue from. Although the DICJ’s pressure is working for now, a complete lack of revenue sources might force them into considering their options, and fast.