Macau’s Health Bureau has already approved requests for the installation of an aggregate of 252 upgraded smoking lounges inside the city’s 17 casinos, representing about 62 percent out of the total of 404 requests the bureau had received by September 28 – the deadline for such paperwork to be submitted. So said bureau deputy director Cheang Seng Ip to local media on the sidelines of a public event on Saturday.
The 404 aggregate requests had been made for the equivalent number of smoking lounges that had already been technically upgraded by local casinos in anticipation of conforming to new city-wide rules. All Macau gaming venue managements wanting to continue to offer on-site smoking to patrons must apply for the right to operated the new, higher-standard lounges, said to have better air extraction equipment than mandated under the current regulatory regime. From January 1, 2019, only authorised, enhanced, lounges will be permitted in the local market.
Currently, there are still a total of 146 new, upgraded smoking lounges for the casino sector that are still awaiting government approval, Mr Cheang noted to reporters. The official also mentioned six earlier requests for upgrades had been cancelled by the applicants, but he neither specified the reasons, nor identified the respective gaming venues where these lounges were to have been installed.
Mr Cheang’s latest remarks came just under one month after site visits to casinos by some government officials, regarding the smoking lounge issue. Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, was part of a tour that visited two upgraded smoking lounges, installed respectively on the mass gaming floor of Studio City as well as at Suncity VIP gaming club at the Venetian Macao casino resort on Cotai. The two locations were among the 49 upgraded smoking lounges that had received official clearance at the time.
“We’ll conduct regular checks and spot checks – with the collaborative efforts from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and casinos – to enforce the [new tobacco control] rules,” said Mr Cheang on Saturday.
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