Macau casino firm SJM Holdings Ltd has confirmed in an email to GGRAsia that eligible employees of its operating unit will receive on July 4 what the group termed a “summer living subsidy”.
A few hours later on Friday, Macau operator Wynn Macau Ltd announced it would pay what it termed a “special bonus” to all its eligible members on August 1.
The SJM Holdings email stated, referring to the locally-registered entity that holds the Macau casino gaming permit: “The summer living subsidy from Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, SA, which is the second of two equal instalments of the living subsidy for 2019, will be released to eligible employees on 4 July 2019.”
A document in Chinese – on notepaper carrying the SJM Holdings logo and purporting to be an internal memo on the matter – had earlier been circulating among social media groups representing local casino workers and appeared to confirm a summer payment. The document had also been seen by GGRAsia.
Wynn Macau’s Friday press release stated that “a special bonus equal to one month’s gross salary, will be paid on August 1, 2019 to all eligible Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace team members (excluding senior management).”
The firm added it was to “show the company’s appreciation for the superior work performance and service levels delivered by the teams” that make up its staff.
For most of Macau’s casino operators, so-called “winter” and “summer” bonuses – typically with a linkage to the amounts payable in normal monthly salary – have been discretionary awards for eligible non-management staff, dependent on company trading conditions.
Gross gaming revenue growth in the Macau market has moderated in the first five months of this year, compared to 2018, due to a decline in VIP gambling that some investment analysts have attributed to tightened credit conditions and weaker consumer confidence as a result of the United States-China trade war.
But several Macau labour groups had recently been lobbying the local government to pressure casino operators for such “summer bonuses” still to be paid this year.
As late June is typically the time when announcements are made regarding a summer payment, and no public announcements had been made prior to the Friday statements of SJM Holdings and Wynn Macau Ltd, the labour groups had fretted that this year the payments might not be forthcoming.
SJM Holdings is distinctive in the Macau market in that it has formalised such payments via what it terms a yearly “living subsidy” given to eligible staff in two instalments. The firm has pledged since the mechanism’s introduction in 2014 to maintain it until 2020. It has nonetheless restated the policy year-by-year. The payments are equivalent in aggregate to either one-and-a-half months of annual salary or two months of salary, depending on the worker concerned.
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"People are still pretty reserved in their [gaming] spending. And what the [junket] sector faces now is that the collection of [gaming] debt is difficult"
Kwok Chi Chung
President of the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters