Macau junkets urged not to lay off employees

by William Brown Last Updated
Coronavirus tests at Macau casinos become cheaper 

Macau concessionaire employees have one less thing to worry about as their industry is crushed by the ongoing effects of the coronavirus.

Calvin Ayre reports that 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.

Several outlets are reporting Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has sent letters to the six casino concessionaires, encouraging them to avoid layoffs.

It emphasised that “maintaining social responsibility is one the priorities of the Macau SAR government.”

It also emphasised concessionaires’ responsibility.

“In this difficult period, companies should make every effort to ensure the employment of employees and maintain a stable labour market.”

This emphasis had an impact on at least 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 per cent of employees noted a fear of losing their job due to coronavirus.

75.5 per cent showed 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 until the third quarter.

Not helping matters are additional travel bans on travellers from newly infected countries.

Visitors from Iran, Italy, South Korea, France, Germany, Japan and Spain must all undergo mandatory eight-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.

Macau casino revenue plummets

Macau casinos reported gaming revenue falling nearly 90 per cent in February after local authorities ordered a two-week shutdown of operations due to the coronavirus.

Calvin Ayre reports the figures released Sunday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported that local casinos had generated revenue of just US$386.6 million in February, a drop of 87.8 per cent from the same month last year, the largest monthly decline on record.

For the first two months of 2020, gaming revenue is down by nearly half.

The special administration of China ordered its casinos to shut their doors for 15 days starting February 4 as the Covid-19 outbreak continued spreading out of its ground zero in Hubei province.

China restricted the number of individual schemes permits and tour groups to Macau, while Macau’s government mulled shutting its borders entirely to limit its potential exposure to Covid-19.

Following the conclusion of that shutdown, Macau casinos began phased re-openings and the DICJ said Friday that only two casinos – Casino Taipa at the Regency Art Hotel and the Casino Macau Jockey Club in the Macau Roosevelt Hotel – had yet to resume operations.

Operators were allowed to open only if they agreed to follow certain restrictions aimed at limiting further spread of the virus, including maintaining empty seats between players at gaming tables and electronic gaming machines, not allowing ‘standing’ bets and requiring all guests and staff to wear face masks until March 22.

Macau’s January revenue fell 11.3 per cent year-on-year after China’s travel restrictions began taking effect in the final 10 days of the month.

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