The majority of Macau gaming venues – including casinos and slot-machine parlours – have already submitted the final plans to the government for setting up smoking lounges on their mass floors.
The city’s Health Bureau on Monday said that 39 gaming venues out of a total of 41 had already done so.
The bureau’s statement failed to mention which venues had yet to submit their plans.
Macau has 32 casinos in operation and nine slot-machine parlours, data from the Health Bureau show.
All mass-market gaming floors in Macau must go smoke-free starting from October 6, following that month’s Golden Week holiday, which includes the National Day celebrations of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.
However, casino operators will be allowed to build smoking lounges on their mass-market floors, but they must not have any gaming tables or slot machines inside them. In theory they would be similar to smoking rooms found at major airports.
According to the new rules, casino operators can however ask to set up smoking areas with gaming tables and slot machines on non-main floor zones “that are of limited access to specific games and gamblers”. This is understood to cover not only VIP rooms but also premium mass gambling areas when they are isolated from main floors.
The Health Bureau’s statement said the new measures “will improve air quality inside casinos”, also reducing the exposure of gaming workers to second-hand tobacco smoke.
A Macau-government sponsored survey released in May showed that 58.4 percent of casino workers were unwilling to work in VIP rooms after the full smoking ban comes into effect on the mass-market floors. But some 12.7 percent of these casino workers would be willing to change their mind in exchange for a special cash allowance.
Health Bureau deputy director Cheang Seng Ip in June stated it would not be compulsory for gaming operators to provide subsidies for employees working in smoking areas. But he added the government expected casino companies pay staff a special allowance.
Brokerage firm Nomura last week said investors “do not seem overly concerned” about the October 6 smoking ban on mass casino floors, given at least some VIP and premium mass areas would remain smoking.
“But we note there could be some temporary disruption, as grind mass players will have to adapt to a new behaviour of going to the smoking pods,” analyst Louise Cheung wrote in the note.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China