Macau VIP Industry on the Crossroad, Former Employees Suffering

As the junket industry in Macau is continuing to adjust to the new reality, more than 90% of people who were previously employed with junket operators have not returned to the gaming industry.

Junket Operators Staying on the Sidelines

The figure was revealed by the president of the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters, Kwok Chi Chung, who also said that the majority of junket operators are currently staying on the sidelines, waiting to see how the VIP sector would restart under the new law.

With less than 10% of junket employees returning and just a few junket operators having resumed operation so far, the prospect of the sector is unclear. Kwok noted that he was not in a hurry to resume operation with his company either.

“As 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 operators, we are figuring out the new start under the new gaming rules,” Kwok stated as quoted by Asia Gaming Brief.

It seems that the resurgence in visitations to the Special Administrative Region (SAR) is not helping the junket sector to recover, but is in alignment with the new reality pictured by the local government, in which Macau’s focus is shifted away from VIP gambling and into a mass-centric model, and the once gambling Mecca is re-branded as a tourist destination.

Kwok also noted that most of the former employees of VIP casino rooms would gladly return to the sector as they do not feel the same level of financial security at their new jobs as taxi drivers or local food delivery personnel, wrongfully considering that their old jobs would pay the same level as before.

Kwok admitted that VIP room operators would not be able to pay the same remuneration for their employees as the new junket law limited junket operators to one source of revenue only – the 1.25% commission – and employees cannot participate in gaming revenue share schemes.

Difficulties Finding Jobs in the Sector

Information that former VIP workers find difficulties to return to the sector was confirmed by data released by the Macau Gaming Industry Employees Home related to a survey the workers union conducted in March last year.

According to the data, 85.1% of respondents confirmed they could not find work at the time, and for 70% of those who managed to find a new job in the sector, it took them more than six months to do so.

Yet, the majority elected to start working in retail or as taxi and delivery drivers, earning far less than they have earned before and are still being owed termination compensation.