Macau has seen a net reduction of 191 non-resident workers employed in the local gaming industry during the months of February and March, according to figures provided to GGRAsia by the city’s Public Security Police. The tally does not include construction workers directly hired by the city’s gaming companies.
The Public Security Police handle immigration affairs in Macau. According to data the force gave in response to our request, February saw a net reduction of 35 such work visas – also known locally as “blue cards” due to an earlier printed format of such permits – because 79 permits were cancelled and only 44 new ones granted.
March saw a net reduction of 156 such work visas, with 217 gaming industry ones cancelled and only 61 new permits approved, according to the police.
Macau labour law says that resident workers have precedence over non-resident workers in terms of hiring and in terms of job retention. Non-resident worker visa periods are also time-limited. Such workers should only be hired either where there are no resident workers for a particular role, or where there are not enough resident workers to cover employer needs.
GGRAsia understands from industry sources that a number of the city’s casino operators have been cutting their respective headcount amid the challenging business environment in the market, due to the negative impact from the Covid-19 disease and the restrictions regionally and globally to tourism and travel.
GGRAsia has learnt that a number of senior executives at Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd has recently left the firm. We approached the company asking about the reported departures and whether they were linked with any redundancies due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We had not received a reply by the time this story went online.
A Monday note from JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd looking at the costs of all six Macau operators and the effects of the crisis, estimated that Sands China’s daily fixed operating costs amounted to US$4.4 million. According to the institution, Sands China has “enough cash to survive … about two years of ‘no revenue’”.
At the point in early February when the Macau government ordered the casino floors to take a 15-day pause to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and its associated illness Covid-19, the city’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, had urged the city’s six gaming licensees neither to reduce the salaries of their employees, nor to impose lay-offs. “We will urge the casino operators to fulfill their social responsibilities,” he had noted.
Stringent limits on cross-border travel have been imposed in and out of Macau and further afield as the pandemic has developed. Recently, the daily flow of visitors in Macau has been in the several hundreds, according to Public Security Police data, rather than the daily average of 108,000 recorded last year.
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