Macau casino resort MGM Cotai, promoted and run by MGM China Holdings Ltd, was – as of March-end – still awaiting approval from the Macau government for the upgraded smoking lounges requested for that property by the firm. That is according to a statement issued by Macau’s Health Bureau on Tuesday.
The bureau said that as of March 31, it had given permission for an aggregate of 503 new-style smoking lounges – as required under recently-updated legislation – for a total of 28 casinos in the city. That tally included major casino properties run by the city’s six casino operators. The exception was MGM Cotai, according to the bureau’s latest updated list, issued on Tuesday, of approved new smoking lounges.
The aggregate number of such requests as of March 31, was 588 for a total of 35 casinos, the Health Bureau also stated. Such facilities designed to be near gaming areas in order to serve gamblers that smoke; meaning they don’t need to step outside the building and thereby possibly be lost as a casino customer.
GGRAsia asked MGM China for comment on why MGM Cotai was the only one of Macau’s major casino resorts not yet to have received approval for upgraded smoking lounges. We had not received a reply by the time the story went online.
Up to December 31, VIP rooms had been the only places in Macau casinos that had still been allowing smoking 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 month. Several investment analysts had mentioned before that the full application – with effect from January 1 – of new smoking rules were likely a headwind for the gaming business.
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.
The Health Bureau’s Tuesday release did not detail the gaming venues that had simply chosen not ask permission for new-style smoking lounges. But previous information published by the bureau in February had indicated that an aggregate of 12 gaming venues had made no request for new-style smoking lounges. Those were: the SJM Holdings Ltd-licensed venues Eastern Casino, Grandview Casino, Macau Jockey Club Casino (based at the Macau Roosevelt Hotel), Casino Taipa, and the Royal Dragon Casino; plus seven Mocha Clubs. The latter are slots-only venues controlled by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd. The 12 gaming venues were not on the latest list of the bureau’s approved new smoking lounges.
The Health Bureau also noted in its Tuesday release that the casino in Galaxy Macau, a resort run by Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, had been a “blackspot” for smoking rule violations in March. The document added that bureau staff had on 589 occasions in the first three months of this year conducted joint patrols of Macau gaming floors with officials from the city’s casino regulator. Such patrols had resulted in 446 instances of alleged smoking rule violations being identified and acted upon.
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