Macau’s Health Bureau says it had given permission in the last two months for 21 new-style smoking lounges in Macau’s gaming venues, according to an update published on Wednesday.
As of August 31, there was an aggregate of 583 new-style smoking lounges – as required under recently-updated legislation – for a total of 32 gaming venues in the city. There was one new venue added to the list since the end of June.
The Health Bureau noted on Wednesday that as of August 31 it had received requests for an aggregate of 617 smoking lounges from 34 gaming venues in Macau. It didn’t name them, nor did it identify those venues that had simply chosen not ask permission for new-style smoking lounges.
There are currently 47 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 where it was still allowed to smoke 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 months.
Several investment analysts had mentioned previously that the full application – with effect from January 1, 2019 – of new smoking rules were in likelihood a headwind for the gaming sector.
In Wednesday’s written announcement, the Health Bureau said it conducted 931 joint patrols of Macau gaming floors with officials from the city’s casino regulator in the first eight months of 2019, up 58.3 percent year-on-year. Such inspections had resulted in 987 instances of alleged smoking rule violations being identified and acted upon, down 13.6 percent from the prior-year period, according to the statement.
Those incidents accounted for 26.1 percent of public smoking infractions citywide in the first eight months of 2019. Casinos were the biggest single source of Macau’s reported smoking rule violations so far this year, according to the bureau.
In August alone, the Wynn Palace Casino – operated by Wynn Macau Ltd – was identified as a “black spot” for alleged smoking rule violations, the Health Bureau said in its Wednesday statement.
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Spending on purchase of goods, commissions paid and customer rebates in Macau's gaming industry in 2018