Asia round-up: 85% of junket staff unemployed in Macau, Japan IR bids & more

Macau survey: 85% of former junket staff remain unemployed 

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A survey undertaken by Macau’s Integrated Service Centre has revealed that 85% of former junket employees remain unemployed, following the closure of many junket-run VIP rooms by the end of 2021. 

Recent reforms announced by the Macanese Government have all but ended the prospect of junkets remaining in operation in the mid-to-long term future. The Second Standing Committee of Macau’s Legislative Assembly has decided to remove the operating rights of junkets under private property licensed to concessionaires. 

These measures are likely to be introduced within two or three years and have meant that many junkets – already struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – have ceased operations.  

The alleged corruptibility of junket CEOs has not helped matters; Suncity’s Alvin Chau was arrested for tax evasion in a high-profile case, as was Tak Chun Group boss Levo Chan Weng Lin. 

Pak Kin Pong, a supervisor at the Service Centre, said: “The employment situation for these former workers is dire. The turmoil in the junket segment has started since the end of last year, and this means they have stayed unemployed for at least four months.” 

The figures support his claim; even those former junket workers who have found new employment have seen their monthly earnings slashed significantly.  

The survey, as reported by the Macau News Agency, polled 309 former Macanese staff, all of whom had either been sacked or resigned from their job in the past 12 months.  

A significant 50% of junket employees participating in the survey were former employees at the Chau-headed Suncity Group, while 18% worked for Tak Gun Group and 12% for Guangdong Group.  

Just 8% of survey participants found a job outside of the gaming industry, while 4% moved to another gaming entity or rival junket. In total, 2% started up their own business, while the remaining survey participants currently have no intention to return to employment.  

Japan: Osaka, Nagasaki submit IR bids to national Government 

“The turmoil in the junket segment has started since the end of last year, and this means they have stayed unemployed for at least four months” Pak Kin Pong, Supervisor, Macau’s Integrated Service Centre

Japan’s Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures have both submitted bids to the national Government in the hope of gaining approval to develop integrated resorts in their respective regions.  

The submitted proposals, formally titled IR District Development Plans, were submitted ahead of the Government’s 28 April deadline.  

Both Osaka and Nagasaki were expected to be joined in the race to bid for an IR by Wakayama. However, the region’s prefectural assembly rejected the local plan for a casino resort, leaving just Osaka and Nagasaki in the running. 

Nagasaki’s development scheme is expected to cost up to JPY438.3bn (US$3.4bn) at current rates, including JPY175.3bn in equity. The prefecture plans to build its IR alongside a Dutch-inspired theme park; the resort will be located in Sasebo City. 

These development costs are dwarfed by projected figures for Osaka’s IR development, with initial investment costs expected to total JPY1.08trn. Osaka’s bid is in partnership with Osaka IR, a special purpose company (SPC) led by both MGM Resorts International and Orix Corporation. 

Osaka’s plans stipulate an IR opening on Yumeshima Island in mid-to-late 2029. Pre-developmental estimates predict annual visitations of up to 20 million. 

Macau planning for return of Portuguese tourism 

Elsie Ao Ieong, Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, has detailed plans being made by Macau’s Government to allow selected non-residents to enter the region. 

According to local media, Ao Ieong revealed that Portugal is the current location of choice being discussed by Macau’s Government officials. 

This decision is not set in stone, however. Macanese officials continue to analyse countries with the greatest suitability for creating travel corridors. Preference is being given to countries that house large families and Macanese foreign students. 

As of now, all travel into Macau is subject to mandatory hotel quarantine.  

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