A total of 891 people received cash fines in Macau in the first 11 months of 2017 for smoking in unauthorised areas inside the city’s casinos, according to government data. That is an increase of 52.3 percent from the prior-year period, when a total of 585 people had been fined, show official data.
Statistics from Macau’s Health Bureau show that a total of 616 site inspections were conducted inside casinos between January and end-November – up from 455 inspections in the first 11 months of 2016.
The majority of those fined in the first 11 months of 2017 – 84.0 percent – were tourists, according to a Wednesday press release from the Health Bureau.
In its latest release, the bureau said that during the month of November it had noted higher incidence of cases in a few locations, including at casino hotel Wynn Macau, operated by Wynn Macau Ltd.
It had been announced in October that the Wynn Macau property was facing a probe from the city’s Health Bureau for allegedly breaching the city’s ban on smoking in public places.
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. Having a cigarette while gambling is at present still allowed in VIP rooms.
Macau’s Legislative Assembly approved on July 14 a revised bill on smoking that bans tableside tobacco use in VIP rooms. Although the new rules apply from January 1, 2018, tableside smoking at VIP rooms will in effect be able to continue until January 1, 2019, as casinos have been given a year’s grace period to set up VIP smoking lounges.
Under the city’s newly-amended Regime on Tobacco Prevention and Control, all smoking lounges in casinos – including the existing ones set up on mass floors since the ban on free-for-all casino smoking – will also have to conform to enhanced technical standards.
Under the new bill, smokers that light a tobacco product in no-smoking areas will be subject to a fine of MOP1,500 (US$186), up from MOP600 under the current legislation.
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Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd