All mass market casino floors in Macau must go smoke-free starting from October 6, a move that may impact the so-called premium mass segment.
A full smoking ban will be implemented after October’s Golden Week, the government announced yesterday.
The full smoking ban will only apply to mass market areas, the Health Bureau said today. “The current rules will still apply to the VIP rooms,” a spokesman told GGRAsia. The current regulations allow operators to set up smoking zones of up to 50 percent of the gaming floor space.
The amendment, however, could impact premium mass areas.
Premium mass-market players account for the top of the mass market, playing at higher denominations than the market average. They yield high margins because they don’t require casinos to pay commissions to junket operators.
“If the premium mass area is located on the mass market floor, it will have to comply with the full smoking ban,” said the Health Bureau’s spokesman.
Last year, a report from Deutsche Bank AG in Hong Kong said that on average 27 percent of tables on the main floors in Macau were designated premium mass. The bank spent many months observing the mass floors of Macau’s seven biggest casinos. The calculation was based on a November 2012 table count.
It is likely that the number has since increased, as several operators are repositioning tables from VIP to premium mass areas.
Under the new rules, Macau casino operators will be allowed to build smoking rooms on their mass market floors. Those areas will not be allowed to have gaming tables nor slot machines, the Health Bureau said.
The government says it will fast track the legislative procedure and the approval process of the new regulations to ensure enough time for the construction of the smoking rooms. If the operators fail to set up the smoking rooms by October 6, punters will not be allowed to smoke on their mass gaming areas.
“I believe that the air quality of the mass market floors will be improved after the gaming venues install smoking rooms,” Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U said yesterday quoted by Macau media.
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