Health Bureau staff conducted 795 joint patrols of Macau gaming floors with officials from the city’s casino regulator in the first half of 2019, up by 82.3 percent year-on-year. So said the Health Bureau in an update published late Friday regarding its enforcement work.
Such inspections had resulted in 775 instances of alleged smoking rule violations being identified and acted upon, nine fewer year-on-year, according to the document. Those incidents accounted for 26.4 percent of public smoking infractions citywide in the first half of this year.
Casinos were the biggest single source of Macau’s reported smoking rule violations in the first six months of this year. In June alone, the Kampek Paradise casino – run by casino equipment maker Paradise Entertainment Ltd under SJM Holdings Ltd’s gaming licence – was identified as a “black spot” for alleged smoking rule violations, the Health Bureau said in its Friday statement.
There are 47 active gaming venues in the city, according to data from the local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Many of the venues have either multiple gaming floors or multiple gaming areas, including VIP zones often physically separate from the main gaming facilities.
Up to December 31, VIP rooms had been the only places in Macau casinos where it was still allowed to smoke at the gaming table. New rules on smoking in public places in Macau came into effect on January 1, 2018, although a one-year grace period for the casino industry permitted VIP room smoking at table side to continue for a further 12 months.
Several investment analysts had mentioned previously that the full application – with effect from January 1, 2019 – of new smoking rules were in likelihood a headwind for the gaming sector. Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau for the first half of 2019 stood at about MOP149.5 billion (US$18.6 billion), a year-on-year contraction of 0.5 percent.
As of June 30, the Health Bureau had given permission for an aggregate of 562 new-style smoking lounges – as required under recently-updated legislation – for a total of 31 gaming venues in the city. That was six more lounges than the previous month. There were no new venues added to the list.
The Health Bureau noted on Friday that as of June 30 it had received requests for an aggregate of 616 smoking lounges from 34 casinos in Macau. It didn’t name them, nor did it identify those venues that had simply chosen not ask permission for new-style smoking lounges.
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"The Hong Kong protests may hurt Macau gross gaming revenue by about mid-single-digit (i.e., half of maximum visitation exposure), which should fade away gradually as people will find alternative ways to visit Macau”
DS Kim, Jeremy An and Christine Wang
Analysts at brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd