Some of Macau’s most outspoken labour groups have praised the government’s decision to order the blanket suspension of operations in the city’s casinos during Typhoon Mangkhut, a category 10 storm that struck the region over the weekend.
Representatives from these groups told GGRAsia on Monday that the government’s decision was appropriate, as it took into consideration the safety of casino employees.
Casino operations in Macau were paused at 11pm on Saturday, according to a government release that day. It was understood to be the first time in the modern era of public gaming concessions that the city’s casinos had been told by the local authorities to close for a time.
The city’s gaming venues were allowed to resume operations today at 8am, after the typhoon category was lowered to Signal No. 3.
Choi Kam Fu, director general of the Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff’s Association and deputy managing director of the Federation of Trade Unions, said that the timely decision to suspend gaming operations was a “relatively good experience,” as it ensured the safety of casino employees.
Cloee Chao, director of the New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association, said her group was pleased with the measures taken to deal with the severe storm. “This was humane and it’s really the first time for Macau to put such measures in place,” Ms Chao told GGRAsia.
Following the lowering of typhoon signal No. 8, most casinos resumed operations today after 8am. Mr Choi said however that the coordination for staff to report to work still has room to improve.
“Some of the employees might live in mainland China … but they were informed to report to work at the same time as the Border Gate [crossing] was to reopen,” Mr Choi told us. “This causes inconvenience, with some of the staff worried about what would happen if they could not report to work on time,” he added.
Mr Choi suggested that casino firms could be more flexible and should provide more guidance in a timely manner, in order to minimise any eventual disruption.
Since most businesses in Macau suspend their operations once typhoon signal No. 8 is hoisted, it makes sense for the casino sector to follow that practice, noted Ms Chao.
“We think that it [the suspension of casino operations during typhoon signal No. 8] is necessary, as it is unsafe to travel to and from your workplace under severe weather conditions,” she said.
Ms Chao added: “This suspension is proof that shutting down all casinos for a period of time won’t bring a huge [negative] impact to Macau.”
Investment analysts covering the Macau gaming industry said they expect the government’s decision to have a negative impact on September’s casino gross gaming revenue, to the tune of at least MOP1.1 billion (US$136.2 million).
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