Macau finance secretary speaks on VIP room shutdown

Lei Wai Nong said the closure of junkets will have an impact on unemployment.
Lei Wai Nong said the closure of junkets will have an impact on unemployment.

Lei Wai Nong has spoken about the shutdown of VIP rooms in the city and how it will affect Macau’s economy.

Macau.- Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s secretary for economy and finance, has made his first public comments following the closure of VIP rooms at the city’s casinos. He said the development would undoubtedly impact on Macau’s unemployment rate. However, he said that the local gaming sector was moving towards a “healthy and sustainable development”.

His comments came when he was asked about recent incidents involving SunCity after the meeting of the Standing Committee of Social Affairs Coordination. Suncity CEO Alvin Chau Cheok Wa has been arrested on accusations related to cross-border gambling. Suncity has closed all of its VIP rooms.

Wynn Macau plans to close all of its VIP rooms from December 20 while Tak Chun, the second-largest junket operator in Macau, has confirmed that some casino operators have decided to temporarily suspend their partnerships.

Nong said: “The unemployment rate in September, October was 3.8 per cent. The closure of the junkets will certainly have an impact and we will concentrate our efforts on overcoming these difficulties.”

However, he pointed out that Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has established communication with local gaming franchisees to assess the situation of the affected workers. 

According to Macau Business, he said: “Workers in gaming concessionaires will not be impacted due to the VIP room closures since they are directly employed by the gaming operators, such as croupiers, security or supervisors. 

“As for the workers directly employed by the junkets, gaming promoters have to assure their labour rights are respected. Including, drivers and other workers. We will provide help to them.”

The Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) has opened a special counter to assist employees affected by the closure of Suncity’s VIP rooms.

Macau’s revision of gaming laws

Asked about the government’s plans for the local gaming industry, Lei Wai Nong emphasised the government’s commitment to “healthy and sustainable” development. He said authorities are focusing on increasing infrastructure investment, expanding domestic demand and the source of tourists next year.

He said: “The current gaming law was created 20 years and did not cover some issues. We will adjust its regulations and hear the opinions of society, including the gaming sector. We are preparing the consultation report and the bill will advance according to the projected timeline. Then we will advance with other works.”

In November, Ho Iat Seng, Macau’s chief executive said the revision of Macau’s gaming laws would involve nine main topics, including the end of the current sub-concession system that led to the creation of three additional Macau casino licences.

The government wants to increase the oversight of gaming concessionaires and junket operations, but it will maintain at least six gaming concessions. It’s not clear if the revision of Macau’s gaming law will be finished before current casino licences expire in June 2022, meaning licences may well be extended.

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