Macau Casino Workers want better working conditionsMacau’s casino workers have been involved in efforts to increase their pay and improve their conditions of employment for over a year but things appear to have come to a head recently with large protests planned or already carried out at some of Macau’s luxury casinos. This is a double problem for the gambling industry in Macau as the major casino operators are facing the possibility of strikes in their casinos and also a shortage of workers both now and in the next few years. Macau is the only Chinese Administrative Region where gambling is permitted and over 80 per cent of the territory’s income comes from its casinos. The government is conscious of the need to resolve the situation for the casino workers increases but at the same time its own protectionist policies mean that only local people can be employed in the region’s 35 land based casinos. This policy is adding to the problems facing casino operators.

Casinos face higher costs

Wages for dealers in Macau’s casinos are around half of the amount paid to dealers in Las Vegas. Macau has outstripped Las Vegas as the world’s major gambling capital for the past few years. All six licensed casino operators in Macau – Galaxy Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands Corp (The Venetian Casino Macau), MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, SJM Holdings and Melco Crown Entertainment, are facing demands for improved employment conditions and some of these such as Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have already paid out about 50 milllion dollars to cover extra labour related costs in the last few months. In order to attract and keep experienced casino workers, the companies have been offering employees incentives and bonuses. Melco Crown is to give its workers the opportunity to attend management courses, Galaxy Entertainment is to give its workers company shares and an extra bonus while Wynn Resorts has given its employees a thousand shares in the company in addition to bonuses.

Labour shortages as more casinos are constructed

Since only local workers can be employed and the government has recently reassured workers that this rule is not about to be changed in the near future, casino operators know that they will face major shortages in particular over the next few years as several new luxury casino resorts are to be built during the second phase of development on the Cotai Strip. The main casino operators are eager to resolve the worker unrest since it will bring a drop in revenue if protests continue and is creating problems as the industry expands but the local- only labour market remains the same size.