Ho Iat Seng

Dependancy on gaming ‘not healthy’ – Ho Iat Seng

Macau’s economic structure is still reliant on the gaming sector, which is not healthy for the sustainable development of the city, said Chief Executive-elect Ho Iat Seng.
He made the remarks in an interview with state-run broadcaster CCTV, which was broadcast on Sunday as a news programme called “One-on-One”.

“The central government has said many times we have not yet facilitated appropriate [economic] diversification; we’re too reliant on one industry,” Mr. Ho said. “The development of our hotel and retail segments have been robust, but they are all linked to the gaming industry.”

“We only have the gaming industry but not other industries,” he said. “This is not sustainable because our neighboring regions have also liberalised [their casino markets].”

The city’s future Chief Executive noted this economic structure is also not healthy for youngsters, as he claimed “80 percent or more” of university graduates from Macau work in the gaming industry with many as casino croupiers.

“Many university graduates work in the [gaming] industry because of the high salaries, but this is a big problem for their career development, and even a bigger problem for Macau,” Mr. Ho added.

Official data show the latest median monthly earnings of residents in Macau amounted to MOP20,000 (US$2,500) in the third quarter of 2019, while the casino sector alone accounted for over 20 percent of the city’s entire labour force.

“There are now 38,000 civil servants and over 80,000 workers in the gaming industry — these two sectors account for a large proportion of the labour force,” the Chief Executive-elect remarked. “Who is going to be a small business owner? Who is going to be an entrepreneur? None.”

The ongoing development of the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macau Greater Bay Area could help facilitate the city’s economic diversification, and provide more career opportunities for Macau youngsters, he proposed.

“Macau is too small…which is our Achilles’ heel,” he said. “We have to be integrated into Mainland China to develop [other] industries.”

Mr. Ho will be sworn in as the city’s top leader on December 20 for a five-year tenure, replacing the incumbent Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On.