Macau casino operators will have to set up their VIP and premium mass rooms in “separate areas” or isolate them with “physical or architectural barriers” from the main casino floor if smoking is to be allowed in those private rooms, said the city’s gaming regulator on Thursday.
It was a specific instruction on the new rules governing smoking in Macau casinos first announced in June. Those rules also state that all mass market casino floors in Macau must go smoke-free starting from October 6, following that month’s Golden Week holiday.
While operators will be allowed to build enclosed smoking lounges on their mass-market floors – without any gaming tables or slot machines inside – smoking in the open while on casino premises will only be allowed in private areas. Those places must be of “limited access to specific games and gamblers”, the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) said in a instruction issued on Thursday.
That is understood to be for VIP or even certain premium mass areas. Several casinos already have separate rooms to serve these customers.
Access to these private rooms should only be allowed to patrons enrolled in the casino’s loyalty programmes and by showing a membership card, the gaming regulator said.
In these areas, players will only be allowed to smoke at the gaming table or electronic gaming machines, including slot machines, DICJ added. Gaming tables inside these rooms will need to have a ventilation system or a so-called ‘air curtain’, to protect the card dealers, it stated.
According to the government’s new rules, contained in dispatch 141/2014 from Macau’s Chief Executive, the size of the smoking areas in these private rooms together with the smoking lounges must be smaller than 50 percent of the overall gaming area of the casino.
Earlier this week, the deputy director of Macau’s Health Bureau, Cheang Seng Ip, said all six gaming operators had already separately submitted draft plans for the setting up of smoking lounges on mass gaming floors.
The government will establish a cross-departmental group to approve the plans. Approval should be completed before October 6, Mr Cheang told reporters.
There has been no indication of any casino declining to set up a smoking lounge or lounges for its mass floor, the official added. It had been reported in local media that several unnamed venues had been considering going smoke free in their mass areas. Mr Cheang said only one slot machine parlour had indicated it was considering going fully smoke free.
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