A total of 394 people has been fined in Macau in the first eight months of 2016 for smoking in unauthorised areas inside the city’s casinos, according to government statistics. That is an increase of 32.2 percent from the prior-year period, when a total of 298 people had been fined, show official data.
Information from Macau’s Health Bureau records a total of 326 site inspections inside casinos between January and end-August: up from 301 inspections in the first eight months of 2015.
The majority of those fined in the January to August 2016 period – i.e., 78.2 percent – were tourists, according to a Friday press release from the Health Bureau.
The Macau government banned in October 2014 smoking on casino mass floors. An exception was made for tobacco use in enclosed smoking lounges – facilities without gaming – located on some casino mass-market floors in the city. Having a cigarette while gambling is at present still allowed in VIP rooms.
The government is now pushing for a full smoking ban inside casinos as part of a scheduled revision of the city’s tobacco control law. But the majority on the Macau Legislative Assembly working committee asked to scrutinise the revised tobacco control bill currently supports the retention of smoking lounges on casinos. The working committee is currently on its summer break: it will only continue reviewing the bill after October 15 at the earliest, once the Legislative Assembly’s two-month recess ends.
Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, said in late May that government officials were available to discuss the issue of whether smoking lounges might be retained inside casinos.
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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