Macau-based casino operators Sands China Ltd and MGM China Holdings Ltd respectively have been found not guilty of breaches to the city’s anti-smoking law in two separate cases, Macau’s Health Bureau said in a Friday statement.
The announcement came after government investigations into, respectively, Sands China’s casino resort the Venetian Macao, and casino hotel MGM Macau, owned and operated by MGM China. The probes followed worker complaints about alleged breaches to smoking rules inside those casinos.
The investigations – which involved the Health Bureau and the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – found no wrongdoing by either of the operators. One gambler was however found puffing a cigarette in a non-smoking area, and was fined accordingly, the statement said.
The government checks were initiated after Sands China and MGM China were each accused – by workers at the respective venues mentioned – of setting up smoking zones in gaming areas earmarked for non-smoking activities. In the case of Sands China, complaints included the alleged conversion of two segments of the mass-market floor of the Venetian Macao into VIP areas to allow smoking and gambling inside them.
Smoking on casino main floors in Macau is currently only allowed in airport-style enclosed smoking lounges that do not contain any gaming tables or slot machines. Casino operators have been required to get approval for such facilities. Having a cigarette while gambling is at present still allowed in Macau casino VIP rooms.
The government is now pushing for a full smoking ban inside casinos as part of a scheduled revision of the city’s tobacco control law. But a majority on the Macau Legislative Assembly working committee asked to scrutinise the revised tobacco control bill currently supports the retention of smoking lounges on casinos.
All necessary scrutiny and approval of the revised tobacco control bill must be completed prior to the city’s current legislative term ending in August 2017. If the deadline is missed, the current proposed legislation would fall and the process – which began in July 2015 – would have to start afresh.
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“All of the [casino] concessionaires in Macau respect the law in China, and we never promote gaming in China”
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President of Macau casino operator Sands China