Casinos were the biggest single source of Macau’s reported smoking rule violations this year up to May 31. So said the Health Bureau in an update published on Tuesday regarding its enforcement work.
For the first five months of this year, bureau staff had on 724 occasions conducted joint patrols of Macau gaming floors with officials from the city’s casino regulator. Such patrols had resulted in 666 instances of alleged smoking rule violations being identified and acted upon, according to the Tuesday document.
Those incidents accounted for 26.5 percent of public smoking infractions citywide in the first five months of this year.
In May alone, the casino at Grand Lisboa – a venue promoted by SJM Holdings Ltd – was identified as a “black spot” for alleged smoking rule violations, the Health Bureau remarked in its Tuesday 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 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 in likelihood a headwind for the gaming sector.
As of May 31, the Health Bureau had given permission for an aggregate of 556 new-style smoking lounges – as required under recently-updated legislation – for a total of 31 casinos in the city. That was 10 more lounges than the previous month. The Health Bureau did not identify the latest venues added to the list.
The Health Bureau noted on Tuesday that as of May 31 it had received requests for an aggregate of 597 smoking lounges from 35 Macau casinos. It didn’t name them, nor did it identify those venues that had simply chosen not ask permission for new-style smoking lounges.
All the large-scale Macau properties now operate new-style smoking lounges, after MGM Cotai, promoted by MGM China Holdings Ltd, was given the go-ahead in late April.
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”I do not believe that this event [the collapse of a under-construction building in Sihanoukville] will slow down the issuance of [gaming] licences. Market forces will probably dictate the process as developers evaluate projected future demand for gaming in the region”
Senior partner at business consultancy Global Market Advisors