Macau casino hotel Ponte 16 (pictured) has become the first property to have a smoking lounge approved by the city’s authorities under a new, enhanced set of technical standards. The gaming venue is a joint venture between casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd and Success Universe Group Ltd.
Four other casinos – namely MGM Macau and MGM Cotai, operated by MGM China Holdings Ltd; and Studio City and City of Dreams Macau, under Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd – have also submitted applications to have smoking lounges approved under the new rules, stated the city’s Health Bureau in a press release issued on Thursday.
The document did not specify the number of smoking lounges that each of these properties had requested to set up in their respective casinos. It only stated that, in total, the five casinos had filed an aggregate of 31 requests for approval of smoking lounges.
The bureau reiterated that the city’s gaming operators would have to submit by September 28 any applications for smoking lounges, in order for such requests to have a chance of being approved before the city’s new regime on smoking is enforced in casinos on January 1, 2019.
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 machines or tables – located on some casino mass-market floors in the city.
Macau’s Legislative Assembly approved in July last year a revised bill on smoking that banned tableside tobacco use in VIP rooms. The bill also upgraded the technical standards smoking lounges in casinos need to meet.
Although the new rules apply from January 1, 2018, casinos were given a year’s grace period to set up VIP smoking lounges and upgrade their existing mass floor lounges.
Existing smoking lounges will need to be issued with fresh authorisation from the authorities in order to continue operating. If any existing lounges are found to be in operation – without the necessary technical upgrades and fresh authorisations – after January 1, 2019, operators face fines of up to MOP200,000 (US$24,747).
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters