Macau-based casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd is considering a pay rise for its staff in 2016, the firm’s chief executive, Ambrose So Shu Fai, said on Thursday. Mr So added, according to local media reports, that the decision would take into consideration the firm’s revenues, its employees’ purchasing power and the general state of the city’s economy.
Casino operators in Macau have for a number of years paid salary increments and increased other employee benefits, either to attract new staff or retain the ones they have in a tight labour market subject to restrictions on the importation of workers. All six operators have opened or are opening new casino resorts in the Cotai district of the city between now and the end of 2017.
Several of the city’s casino operators separately announced a 5-percent pay rise in 2015 for all workers other than senior managers.
Last week members of a local labour group called the Gaming Employees Advancement Association called for a pay rise for gaming workers of “no less than” the 2.5-percent increase the Macau government has promised the city’s public servants in 2016. In 2015, public sector workers received a 6.75 percent pay hike.
Investment analysts have suggested that rising labour costs would weigh on Macau casino operators’ margins, as the operators grapple with the gambling market downturn.
Macau has experienced 18 consecutive months of decline in casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) judged year-on-year. Casino GGR for the first 11 months of the year has registered an aggregate 35.3 percent fall from the equivalent period in 2014. November was the lowest monthly GGR tally since September 2010, according to official data.
A report by Morgan Stanley group in September said Macau casino operators have cut back their advertising costs as “companies realised that some of the revenue losses are permanent”. Cutting staff – most of whom are Macau residents – was a harder task, noted the institution.
SJM Holdings reported last month an 81.4 percent year-on-year drop in net profit for the third quarter of 2015, to HKD285 million (US$36.8 million). Revenue – including for gaming, hotel, catering and related services – fell by 37.7 percent year-on-year to approximately HKD11.4 billion.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a public event on Thursday, SJM Holdings’ Mr So said he was confident in the long-term growth of Macau’s gaming industry. The CEO was quoted saying that the city’s new infrastructure projects, although facing delays, would help increase the number of visitors to Macau in the coming years.
A report this week by Fitch Ratings Inc said that Macau’s infrastructure projects, “once completed, will make Macau more accessible to the mass market”.
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