Casino resort City of Dreams (pictured), operated by Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, has been fined MOP100,000 (US$12,524) by the Macau government, for allegedly breaching the city’s ban on smoking in public places.
The company is said to have failed to post ‘no smoking’ signs in one area inside its casino, even after ordered by Macau’s Health Bureau, the bureau said in a press statement issued on Wednesday night.
“The decision [to issue the fine] was made after the Health Bureau investigated the casino, which was suspected of having illegally established a smoking area in its mass casino floor, and after analysing an appeal filed by Melco Crown,” the statement added.
GGRAsia contacted Melco Crown for comment, but had not received a response at the time our story was published.
This is the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Macau’s Health Bureau – in charge of implementing the smoking ban – and Melco Crown.
The bureau first announced it had detected an unauthorised smoking area inside Cotai’s City of Dreams in October, shortly after rule changes had been applied to an existing partial ban on smoking in Macau casinos.
The new rules, enacted on October 6, state that smoking on casino main floors is now only allowed in enclosed smoking lounges that do not contain any gaming tables or slot machines. But puffing a cigarette while gambling is currently still allowed in VIP rooms.
In the run up to the new smoking regime, guidance from government officials was that casino operators would be able to set up smoking areas with gaming tables and slot machines on non-main floor zones “that are of limited access to specific games and gamblers”.
This was understood by casino managements to cover not only VIP rooms but also premium mass gambling areas when they were isolated from the rest of the mass-market floor.
However less than one week before the rule changes were implemented, a press statement from the Health Bureau said smoking would not be allowed in premium mass areas of any kind.
Melco Crown and the Health Bureau have different legal views on the interpretation of the latest set of smoking rules. The gaming operator argues its operations are compliant with Macau legal requirements and that all its smoking areas have been approved for smoking since 2012 by an executive order from the Macau government Chief Executive.
Media reports say the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau approved the conversion of the area in question into a “limited access area” in October. However, the Health Bureau says it never authorised it to become a smoking area.
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Aggregate number of visitor arrivals to Macau in October