Wynn Macau Launches Stock Option Scheme

Wynn Macau has upped the stakes in a looming battle for Macau’s most precious resource—labor. The company is awarding each of its workers 1,000 shares of stock in a move observers say will force the competition to sweeten their compensation packages.

Wynn Macau’s decision to offer employees stock options in a bid to secure loyalty in a market facing an acute labor shortage that is expected to worsen as a slew of new megaresorts begin opening on Cotai in 2015.

Wynn Macau plans to offer its 7,500 workers 1,000 shares each and will pay staff two bonuses a year, one in summer and one in winter.

“It is a very good start to push other companies to further improve benefits for their workers,” said Leong Sun Iok, vice president of the Gaming Industry Workers Association.

Official figures show gaming employed over 56,600 people at the end of last year, 25,250 of them croupiers. Neither the government nor the industry are publicly projecting how many more workers will be needed to man the new resorts being built in Cotai, but Morgan Stanley estimates 12,600 more dealer positions will need to be filled, which will be difficult in a city where unemployment runs at around 1.2 percent and government policy currently prohibits non-residents from working as dealers.

Wynn, SJM and Sands China also have announced pay increases of 5 percent this year, but observers say the industry will have to do more to retain precious staff, particularly in response to the Wynn share gift.

“When the rise in a company’s benefits is slower than that of its competitors, it definitely leads to a higher staff turnover rate,” said Zeng Zhong Lu, a professor at Macau Polytechnic Institute.

Leong, for one, suggests improving pensions. “For example,” he said, “workers staying in the company longer could be entitled to bigger pensions, so they would not be tempted to change jobs.”