Macau’s “gaming and junket” segment employed 76,300 people in the October to December period; 11,200 fewer than in the first three months of 2020, according to the latest data released on Friday by the Statistics and Census Service.
In the context of Macau employment data, “gaming” means the licensed gaming operators, and “junket” means the licensed gaming promoters that are not casino operators in their own right in Macau, but typically supply high-roller players from mainland China, to the city’s casino businesses.
The data did not clarify the structure of the job losses, in terms of numbers of Macau ID holders, versus non-resident workers.
At the advent of the Covid-19 crisis in early February, Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, had urged the city’s six casino operators to “fulfill their social responsibilities” regarding employment locally.
The casino operators have so far been supportive of the government in that regard, said Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, in a Thursday plenary session of the Legislative Assembly. It featured discussion on the latest market conditions for the local junket trade.
The six incumbent casino licensees face a public retender for Macau gaming rights, associated with the June 2022 expiry of their current permits.
The city had, as of the latest reporting period covering October to December, a total of 20,200 people that was classified as “underemployed” – of which 18,100 were Macau ID holders. The “majority” of underemployed were working either in “gaming and junket activities” or the transport and storage sector, the statistics bureau said.
A total of 3,200 people was defined as underemployed in Macau during the opening three months of 202o. The tally of underemployed saw sequential increase throughout the year, to a peak at 21,400 people during the period of September to November. A majority was identified as working in gaming and junket activities, the census service noted.
Many local employees of casino-operating companies in Macau report being encouraged by their respective employers to take a mixture of paid and unpaid leave to assist with the gaming firms’ cost-saving efforts to counter the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
At the Thursday Lesgislative Assembly session, Secretary Lei mentioned a sequential “narrowing” in the number of unemployed Macau ID holders in the fourth quarter of 2020.
According to the latest official data, as of that quarter, Macau’s general unemployment rate was 2.7 percent and the unemployment rate of Macau ID holders stood at 3.8 percent, which represented a decrease by 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points respectively from the third quarter.
A separate set of official data show a significant decline during 2020 in the number of non-resident employees – known locally as the “blue-card holders” – employed in the city’s gaming sector, and Macau’s hotel sector.
As of December 2020, there was an aggregate 30,397 non-resident staff employed in the gaming sector and the hotel sector; 8,903 fewer than a year ago, according to the latest available data released by the Labour Affairs Bureau.