The Macau government has said that jobs of staff working in junket-promoted VIP rooms in the city could not be affected by the suspension of these venues, as those workers are contractually linked to the casino operators.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and the Labour Affairs Bureau said that existing laws and regulations protected the rights of staff working at VIP rooms promoted by junkets. The statement however said that workers in non-gaming positions directly employed by junket operators should “safeguard their labour rights”.
The Labour Affairs Bureau said that as of Wednesday it had not yet “received any request for assistance” from employees of junket operators.
The statement was issued after unconfirmed reports that Macau casino operators would cease dealing with junket brands in the city’s gaming market.
A notice issued earlier this week by Macau gambling junket investor Tak Chun Group confirmed that it had been informed by some of the city’s casino operators that they intended to suspend collaboration with Tak Chun. The company, described by investment analysts as the second-largest junket in the Macau market, did not respond to a request for comment from GGRAsia as of the time this story went online.
A source told GGRAsia that casino firm Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd planned to halt the operation of all junket VIP rooms at its properties by December 21. Separately, it has been reported that Wynn Macau Ltd and Sands China Ltd would also close junket rooms at their respective properties within this month.
Casino operators Wynn Macau Ltd and Melco Resorts did not respond to requests from GGRAsia for comment. None of Macau’s casino operators have publicly confirmed their intentions to suspend collaboration with junket firms.
Investment bank Morgan Stanley said in a Wednesday note that it expected other casino operators in the Macau market to close junkets rooms at their properties. “This could effectively mean the end of junket VIP in Macau, even though there is no rule to ban them,” stated the memo.
According to the institution, at its revenue peak in 2013, the VIP segment contributed roughly 70 percent of Macau’s industry gross gaming revenue (GGR), and 32 percent of earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). “However, contribution dropped to 39 percent of GGR and 9 percent of EBITDA in 2019,” suggested the note.
On Tuesday, Macau’s gaming regulator told GGRAsia it had not been informed by any casino operator of an intention to suspend the cooperation with other junkets, aside from the closure of the VIP clubs promoted by Suncity Group.
All the Macau-based VIP gaming rooms of Suncity Group, a brand described previously by investment analysts as the largest VIP junket promoter in the city, ceased operation from December 1. That followed the detention of the boss of the junket brand, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, on suspicion of organising illegal gambling for customers from mainland China, including online gambling via the Philippines.
In its Tuesday reply to GGRAsia, Macau’s gaming regulator did not confirm if it had issued a notice to junket firms to stop offering credit to customers, a move flagged in a Monday note by brokerage Sanford C Bernstein Ltd, and separately confirmed by a source to GGRAsia.
Several local scholars have told GGRAsia that Macau is likely to have a shortfall in its annual gaming tax income relative to the levels of public spending to which it usually has been pledged, if junket-based VIP gambling no longer makes a significant contribution to the city’s coffers.
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