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Lack of Labor in Macau Could Harm the Gaming Recovery

April 12, 2023 Macau Casino & Hotel

The biggest casino industry story to date in 2023 is Macau’s revival, which could be dragged down by a limited labor pool.

The special administrative area (SAR) reopened in full force this year after three years of interim closures and light business as China relaxed some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the world. Gaming revenue in the tourist-dependent enclave is once again soaring. However, there aren’t enough staff on hand to let owners put the entire supply of guest rooms to market.

Bloomberg reported late Tuesday that some five-star hotels in Macau only offer half or less of their rooms, while others don’t provide daily housekeeping services due to a lack of available personnel. The article cited persons with knowledge of the situation. The precise venues impacted by the labor shortages were not mentioned in the article.

Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, MGM China, Sands China, SJM Holdings, and Wynn Macau are Macau’s six concessionaires. Each of those businesses runs a casino hotel that has received a five-star rating from several travel and leisure critics.

Some business owners can manage the labor shortage in Macau
Although the disadvantages of Macau’s limited labor pool are felt by all six gambling companies, they are not uniform.

Because these operators refrained from making widespread layoffs in the early stages of the pandemic, some analysts think Sands China and Wynn Macau will be able to take market share away from competitors. Seven Macau integrated resorts, including some with five-star ratings, are jointly managed by the two businesses.

Concessionaires must also contend with communities’ desires for employment. People from Macau who work in the gambling business are keen to fill positions like dealers, pit bosses, or back-office positions. On the other hand, they avoid lower-level jobs like housekeeping and working in restaurants.

Operators must therefore rely on labor from mainland China and Southeast Asia to fill these positions. However, 44K nonlocal workers have been let go since the pandemic began, according to Bloomberg.

Other Problems Exacerbating the Labor Shortage
The labor scarcity in Macau is getting worse due to other factors. Gaming enterprises must deal with a drawn-out approval procedure for foreign nationals who want to work in casino hotels in the SAR.

Many of the employees from mainland China and Southeast Asia who held customer-facing positions prior to the pandemic have also moved on to work in other sectors of the Chinese economy or at gaming establishments in Singapore and Vietnam.

Operators are increasing the pricing for the rooms they can offer since they are unable to sell a greater quantity of rooms. But customers don’t like that very much. Some potential visitors to Macau are dissatisfied with the cost of lodging. Some travelers feel they aren’t getting a good deal because they are paying for premium lodgings but receiving subpar treatment.

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