“14 months, please!”

For professional achievement? To fulfil a dream? Gaining experience to climb the ladder? Those entering the gambling industry just want to make more money. 

MB Special Report | Working in Casinos: Dreams and Nightmares

“Salary determines the amount of stress an employee is willing to take” is how a male table game manager with more than 15 years of experience in the industry sums up his stance when describing this work. 

Penny Wan (Institute for Tourism Studies) and Joanne Hup (Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration) researched Casino employees’ perceptions of their quality of work life (2012) and “all respondents believed a competitive salary package would contribute to a good work life in the casino industry.  

“Many respondents indicated that their work environments were similar to other casino companies they had worked for and they described the work nature as stressful compared to other industries. For that reason, they expected their employers to compensate them with higher salaries for the stress they have to endure.” 

The same happened with the results of Work stress and problem gambling among Chinese casino employees in Macau, by Irene Lai Kuen Wong and Pui Sze Lam (Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2013): “All admitted that attractive salary was the primary source of job satisfaction.”  

A middle-aged dealer explained to the authors: “With a junior high education, I could hardly get 60 percent of my salary if I quit my job. I am happy with the incomes.” Nevertheless, “it has been widely reported that higher salaries do not always increase job satisfaction.”  

Job satisfaction amongst employees in casino hotels “is significantly associated with work performance. The researchers identified training opportunities, salaries and support from co-workers as significant drivers for improving job satisfaction in Macau’s hospitality and gaming industries”, wrote Brian King (School of Hotel & Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University) and Candy Mei Fung Tang (Faculty of Business and Administration, University of Macau). 

But as we have seen before, it is primarily for financial reasons that Macao residents seek employment in the casino industry and in particular the dealers. No wonder, therefore, that winning more is everyone’s goal. 

But aware that dealers are not available to pay much more, several workers heard in several studies highlighted in recent years point to other types of claims. 

Is this what explains that a request made in the manifestation of the Labour’s Day of last year (the payment of the 14th month) is (still?) a residual question. “We want to have the same rights as civil servants in Macau and we think it is fair to receive the 14th month,” could be heard in the protest.  

In the research of Penny Wan and Joanne Hup, “the majority of respondents (95 per cent) expressed that apart from a good salary, fringe benefits were important to them.” Benefits such as “good staff cafeteria with a variety of food and preferably in buffet style,” “car and motorcycle parking areas for staff” and “free counselling services” were linked to a better quality of work life (77.5 per cent of respondents). 

Connected to this, “a fair promotion system was a theme commonly voiced by respondents,” the same who “felt good when their efforts were recognized by their bosses. Almost all respondents (97.5 per cent) believed that employees who performed well should be rewarded. The reasons cited by respondents include first, they contributed to their companies’ profits, and second they perceived the rewards as an incentive to encourage them to work harder.” 

“All respondents believed a competitive salary package would contribute to a good work life in the casino industry” – Penny Wan and Joanne Hup  

Job insecurity 

“In the local society of Macau, casino employee unions, including the Forefront of Macau Gaming and the Confederation of Trade Unions, have stated that employment security is their priority,” we can read at Effect of job insecurity, anxiety and personal resources on job satisfaction among casino employees in Macau: a moderated mediation analysis (2019) 

Three authors (from Lingnan University, Hong Kong; Department of Psychology, University of Macau and Institute for Tourism Studies) interviewed more than 1000 casino employees and “found a significant negative relationship between job insecurity and job satisfaction. This finding is largely consistent with those of previous studies.” 

“When employees experience job insecurity, their powerlessness in an uncertain workplace increases their apprehension and anxiety, which contribute to job dissatisfaction,” add Francis Yue-Lok Cheung, Anise M. S. Wu and Lam Ching Chi. “As shown in this study, perceived job insecurity is significantly related to employees’ anxiety and decreased job satisfaction. With this knowledge, managers and organizations should make deliberate decisions to reduce perceived job insecurity and minimize the distress resulting from job insecurity.” 

“In this study, we obtained supporting evidence that anxiety serves as a significant mediator in the relationship between job insecurity and job satisfaction,” the three authors conclude.