Macau’s Health Bureau says it gave permission during December for 11 new-style smoking lounges in the city’s gaming venues, according to an update published on Monday.
As of December 31, there was an aggregate of 642 new-style smoking lounges – as required under recently-updated legislation – for a total of 34 gaming venues in the city. There was one new venue added to the list since the end of November.
The Health Bureau noted on Monday that as of December 31 it had received requests for a total of 677 smoking lounges from 35 gaming venues in Macau. It didn’t name them, nor did it identify those venues that had simply chosen not to ask permission for new-style smoking lounges.
There are currently 45 gaming venues in operation in the city, including five standalone slot parlours, 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.
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 Monday’s written announcement, the Health Bureau said that in full-year 2019 it conducted 1,187 joint patrols of Macau gaming floors with officials from the city’s casino regulator, up 38.2 percent year-on-year. Such inspections had resulted in 1,375 instances of alleged smoking rule violations being identified and acted upon. That tally was down 19.8 percent from 2018, according to the statement, although there was no commentary on the reason for that.
The 2019 smoking infringements in casinos accounted for 25.8 percent of public smoking infractions citywide in calendar year 2019.
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