Threat to Macau’s VIP Industry, Distress Among Ex-Employees

Macau’s junket business is still adjusting to the new reality, but more than 90% of former junket operators’ employees have not found work in the casino industry.

Not Getting In The Game: The Junkyard Bosses
The number was disclosed by Kwok Chi Chung, head of the Macau Association of Gambling and Entertainment Promoters, who also said that the vast majority of junket operators are presently sitting on the sidelines, awaiting word on how the VIP sector will begin in light of the new rule.

The future of the junket industry is uncertain, since less than 10% of former junket workers have returned and just a few of former junket operators have restarted business. Kwok said he was also in no rush to get his business back up and running.

According to Kwok, as reported by Asia Gaming Brief, “we are working out the new start under the new gaming laws” since “the profit of all the junkets comes from a 1.25% commission (on rolling chip turnover) and there is no more profit sharing with the casino owners.”

The junket industry does not appear to be benefiting from the uptick in visitors to the Special Administrative Region (SAR), which is consistent with the new reality envisioned by the local government, according to which Macau’s emphasis has shifted away from VIP gambling and toward a mass-centric model, and the once gambling Mecca is re-branded as a tourist destination.

Kwok said that many ex-VIP casino workers would return to the industry if given the opportunity, mistakenly believing that their previous positions would pay the same amount as before. These workers now work as taxi drivers or local food delivery persons.

Kwok conceded that the new junket rule, which restricts junket operators to a single source of income (the 1.25% fee) and prohibits workers from participating in gaming revenue sharing programs, will prevent VIP room operators from paying the same payment for their staff.

Hardships in the Job Market
A poll done by the Macau Gaming Industry Employees Home in March of last year verified earlier reports that former VIP employees had difficulty reentering the business.

Overall, 85.1% of respondents said they were unemployed at the time of the survey, and it took almost six months for 70% of those who did find employment in the industry to do so.

Although being entitled to termination pay, most workers instead took lower-paying jobs in retail or as taxi and delivery drivers.


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