A total of 298 people have been fined in Macau in the first eight months of 2015 for smoking in unauthorised areas inside the city’s casinos, according to government statistics.
Data from the Macau’s Health Bureau show that a total of 301 site inspections were conducted inside casinos between January and end-August.
The majority of those fined – 80.2 percent – were tourists, according to a Monday press release from the Health Bureau.
In October 2014, the Macau government banned smoking from casino mass floors except inside smoking lounges without gaming. Before that, gaming operators were allowed to set up smoking areas with gaming tables and slot machines, covering up to half of the total casino gaming area in each venue.
Having a cigarette while gambling is at present still allowed in VIP rooms.
The Macau government is now pushing for a full smoking ban inside casinos as part of a scheduled revision of the tobacco control law. On July 10, legislators approved the first reading of a government bill that proposes the abolition of casino smoking lounges and a full smoking ban in VIP areas.
The bill is now at committee stage in the Legislative Assembly, but it is likely to be next year before the revised rules become law. The city’s Legislative Assembly is conducting a public consultation process – lasting until September 30 – on the revision of the tobacco control law.
During this review stage, Macau’s gaming operators have been lobbying the government to allow casinos to retain smoking lounges inside casinos. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd said in a press release last month that “allowing smoking lounges would be viewed as a positive for the market.”
The Macau government has admitted it might reconsider its stance on this matter. It would depend on the results of the ongoing public consultation by the Legislative Assembly, Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, said last month.
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"In the coming year we plan to actively tap into the overseas markets by identifying new business locations, keep on expanding our empire and also enhance our VIP services and facilities"
Chief executive of Macau gambling junket investor Tak Chun Group