The chief executive of Macau-based casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd, Ambrose So Shu Fai (pictured), has asked the city’s government to extend the deadline for applications for upgraded smoking lounges in Macau gaming venues.
The deadline expired on Friday (September 28). Mr So’s comments were made on Monday.
According to a government press release, SJM Holdings did not make any requests for new-look smoking lounges in its core properties Casino Lisboa and Casino Grand Lisboa by deadline day. So-called satellites of SJM Holdings – venues owned by third parties but making use of its gaming licence – did make requests.
A week before the deadline, the Health Bureau head, Lei Chin Ion, said his department could not guarantee that any applications for new smoking lounges filed after the September 28 cut-off point could be approved in time for when new rules come into force on January 1, 2019. Mr Lei said late applications would be accepted but could potentially only be approved by February or March 2019, as such approval involved a total of three government departments: the Health Bureau, the Fire Services Bureau and the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau.
A total of 404 requests for upgraded smoking lounges in Macau gaming venues had been received by the deadline for such paperwork to be submitted, according to the city’s Health Bureau. But only 27 out of 47 officially-defined gaming venues had asked for such facilities by the Friday deadline.
All Macau gaming venues wanting to continue to offer on-site smoking to patrons must apply to the local authorities to operate the new, high-standard lounges, said to have better air extraction equipment than is mandated under the current regulatory regime. From January 1, 2019, only authorised, enhanced, lounges will be permitted in the local market.
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"The six Macau casino operators should not be penalised for upping expenditure on player incentives, so long as their EBITDA margins are not materially diluted”
George Choi and Ryan Cheung
Analysts at Citigroup