At least 41 people in Macau had been fined for smoking on casino main floors by October 24, the city’s Health Bureau said in a press release.
Under the latest rule changes on October 6, smoking on casino main floors is only allowed in enclosed smoking rooms that do not contain any gaming tables or slot machines.
The Health Bureau’s statement added that among those fined, 30 were tourists. The bureau said that since the new rules were enacted, it conducted over 61 site inspections to a total of 40 gaming venues, including casinos and slot-machine parlours.
“The Health Bureau considers that the enactment of the smoking ban on casino main floors has generally been good,” it stated.
The bureau also confirmed that as of October 24 a total of 19 gaming venues had received official approval for smoking lounges for their main casino floor patrons. Among Macau’s biggest and most profitable casinos, only Casino Grand Lisboa and Casino Lisboa, both run by SJM Holdings Ltd, are not yet listed by the Health Bureau as having approval for mass floor smoking rooms.
The Health Bureau added in its statement that it is paying “close attention” to the issue of premium mass areas “being automatically converted” into smoking areas. The body said that no new smoking areas had been approved so far.
The issue relating to smoking in mass premium areas has been passed to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau for further follow-up, the Health Bureau added.
The new smoking regime allows casino operators to keep or set up new smoking areas with gaming tables and slot machines if located on non-main floor zones “that are of limited access to specific games and gamblers”. This was understood by casino managements to cover not only VIP rooms but also premium mass gambling areas when they were isolated from the rest of the mass-market floor.
However less than a week before the rule changes were implemented, a press statement from the Health Bureau said smoking would not be allowed in premium mass areas of any kind. But investment bank Credit Suisse AG said in a note on October 24 that some premium mass table gambling zones were being converted by “certain casinos” into members-only areas to “allow smokers to get around the new smoking ban rule”.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau