Macau Government Encourages Casino Operators to Increase Wages

Posted on: November 24, 2023, 07:54h. 

Last updated on: November 24, 2023, 11:51h.

The Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) government is encouraging its six commercial casino operators to consider increasing employee wages, as gaming activity continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macau government casino employee pay
Macau Economy and Finance Secretary Lei Wai Nong wants the enclave’s six casino operators to increase pay for employees by 2% to 3%. The finance secretary reasons the city’s gaming recovery warrants such elevated compensation. (Image: South China Morning Post)

A top government official said this week that with gaming surging this year, the six casino concession holders should contemplate elevating worker pay. Lei Wai Nong, the secretary of Macau’s Economy and Finance Office, says casino revenue likely warrants a 2% to 3% compensation increase for most staffers.

We cannot instruct the casino concessionaires to adjust the salaries of their employees, but we’ve been advising them to share the fruits of the economic recovery with their employees,” Lei told reporters.

Macau’s casino industry is controlled by the Chinese subsidiaries of Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, and MGM Resorts, along with Hong Kong-based gaming operators Galaxy Entertainment, SJM Resorts, and Melco Resorts.

Economy Comeback

Lei’s office oversees one of the world’s wealthiest economies. Despite measuring just 45 square miles and having a population of less than a million residents, Macau’s gross domestic product topped $55 billion in pre-pandemic 2019.

The economy in the “Las Vegas of Asia” was greatly disrupted by the coronavirus and China President Xi Jinping’s “zero-COVID” response program that endured until late 2022. But since the lifting of the controversial policy, gaming — Macau’s primary economic sector — embarked on its long-awaited recovery.

October marked Macau’s best gaming month since the onset of the pandemic, as gross gaming revenue totaled MOP19.5 billion (US$2.43 billion). Through 10 months, 2023 GGR totaled $18.4 billion.

This year’s gaming win is 316% higher than in 2022, 106% better than in 2021, and 224% better than what the six companies won during the same time period in 2020. The market, however, still has a ways to go to return to 2019 gaming levels, if such a return is even possible considering the market’s new conditions that feature far fewer VIP junket groups bringing high rollers to town.

GGR from January through October 2019 totaled more than $30 billion.

Government Comments Carry Weight

In Macau, when government officials speak from the private sector, those comments are weighed heavily. The six casinos go to great lengths to stay in the local government’s good graces, and never was that made more apparent than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite their resorts being nearly desolate of customer traffic, the six casinos retained most of their workforces throughout the nearly three-year-long health crisis. Though their gaming levels have only returned to about 60% of their 2019 business levels, and higher overhead costs because of inflation are cutting into the recovery, Lei’s comments will be expected to result in worker pay increases in 2024.

Macau casinos, however, typically provide their workers with lavish bonuses and annual compensation adjustments.

Last year, all six companies issued financial awards to their employees. Sands, Galaxy, Wynn, MGM, and Melco provided their workers with a bonus equivalent to one month’s salary. SJM provided its employees with 1.5 months of pay.