Macau casinos endured another difficult year because of COVID-19. But five of the six commercial gaming operators are nonetheless providing annual bonuses again to most workers.
Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and two of the three Hong Kong-based gaming operators — Galaxy Entertainment and SJM Resorts — each recently confirmed that they will issue special allowances to the majority of their employees. Sands, MGM, Wynn, and Galaxy are each issuing bonuses equivalent to a month’s salary for those qualified. SJM is issuing awards equal to 1.5 months to two months pay.
Sands said more than 25,000 of its Macau workers qualify for the annual disbursement, scheduled for this month. MGM explained that 95 percent of its approximately 10,000 Chinese staffers will receive a bonus, and Wynn revealed that 98 percent of its 12,000 team members qualify for the benefit.
Melco Resorts, the sixth licensed gaming firm in Macau, hasn’t yet announced a bonus program for its Chinese workers. The company has traditionally handed its workers such an annual payment.
Gaming a Public Benefit
Soon after Macau was handed back to China from Portugal in 1999, local officials in the region decided to expand commercial gambling and end SJM’s gaming monopoly.
The expansion was backed with support arising from the law mandating that more casinos would benefit the enclave as a whole, including higher employment and increased wages.
Today, approximately 20 percent of Macau’s resident population is employed in the casino sector.
Macau’s government generally supports the notion of workers over casinos. Despite the casinos being largely ghost towns during much of the pandemic, the Special Administrative Region warned the six casino concession holders to avoid laying off employees.
Unlike in most other casino markets, casino terminations were minimal in 2020 and 2021 in Macau. As a result, the coronavirus financially strained the casino companies more than individual workers.
Gaming is slowly rebounding in Macau. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) climbed 44 percent to $10.8 billion last year.
The six casinos are set to see their licenses expire in June, though a top-ranking Macau government official recently stated that they should expect to receive new tenders ahead of the scheduled termination.
Casino Pledge to Workers
Annual bonuses have been in the cards throughout the pandemic, as they were also issued in January of 2021. Operators say the payments continuing despite a global health crisis and deep plunge of their resort operations show their commitment to the region.
This year was another challenging one, not just for Macau but for the whole world,” said Sands China President Dr. Wilfred Wong last month. “Since the start of the pandemic, our team members have demonstrated their care for the community by taking the initiative to get vaccinated, volunteering to support our 24-hour testing station during two community-wide mandatory testing drives, and by providing hotel services for medical observation, among so much more.
“Therefore, it is Sands China’s pleasure to award this discretionary allowance to our team members for their tireless dedication,” Dr. Wong concluded.
MGM China thanked its team members for “another year of adapting to changes.” Wynn China said its bonuses are “to show the company’s appreciation” for its workers’ “collective efforts during the past challenging year.”
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