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Macau’s new challenges

The rapid growth of Macau’s casino sector has made it the toast of the gambling world. But although this has brought many benefits to this former Portuguese colony in recent years, the ongoing boom is now causing problems of its own.

 

Escalating labor costs

macau-lisboaOne of these problems is the rising cost of labor. Although Macau’s casinos have traditionally been a major contributor to the territory’s economy since the Sixties, the casino boom means more people than ever are now working in them.

 

This has helped to drive down local unemployment to 2.1% (a little over half of what it is in mainland China). but this is now driving up salaries as big casinos struggle to find staff. The reason for this is because Macau’s labor laws make it very hard – and in some cases impossible – to hire non-Macanese staff.

At present, it has yet to affect the casinos themselves. However, with new casinos opening, and others expanding, this could change. This is already the case for many of the territory’s non-gambling businesses, which are unable to compete with the inflated salaries the casinos can offer (which can be up to twice as much).

 

Battling the cheats

But while the pitfalls of full employment have yet to really hit home for casinos, the same can’t be said for another consequence of Asia’s gambling boom – the rise of organized scams and cheating in its casinos.

 

Scammers are becoming increasingly organized in the way they go about cheating, and are using ever more technologically advanced methods to ply their trade. And in much the same way cities such as Macau and Singapore outpace Las Vegas in terms of casino revenue, so it’s true that now it’s in Asia where the latest innovations in cheating are occurring.

This was a hot topic of debate at last week’s Global Gaming Expo Asia, held in Macau, where many of the world’s leading security companies were demonstrating their latest wares.

But while the cutting edge technologies these use will help in the fight against cheats in gambling, it’s a battle that will inevitably rage on for as long as casino gambling remains popular in Asia.