A total of 538 people received cash fines in Macau in the first seven months of 2017 for smoking in unauthorised areas inside the city’s casinos, according to government data. That is an increase of 59.6 percent from the prior-year period, when a total of 337 people had been fined, show official data.
Statistics from Macau’s Health Bureau show that a total of 426 site inspections were conducted inside casinos between January and end-July – up from 282 inspections in the first seven months of 2016.
The majority of those fined in the first seven months of 2017 – 83.8 percent – were tourists, according to a Monday 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.
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. However, the enhanced technical standards have yet to be released by the government.
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Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein