Macau’s Health Bureau, one of the local government departments in charge of smoking control inside the city’s casinos, said on Thursday night that it “continues to receive requests” from casino operators wishing to put upgraded smoking lounges in their gaming venues, and will process them via “rigorous assessment”.
The original deadline for such bids was September 28. The government had said any requests received after that might not be processed in time for the full implementation of the new smoking lounge standards on January 1 next year.
Only 27 out of 47 Macau gaming venues had submitted papers by deadline day. Some of those that did not are electronic gaming parlours under the Mocha Clubs brand controlled by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
On Thursday Ambrose So Shu Fai, the chief executive of SJM Holdings Ltd, one of Macau’s six licensed casino operators, publicly called for the city’s government to extend the deadline, citing as justification the complexity of the process.
None of the core properties of that company – namely Casino Lisboa, Casino Grand Lisboa and Casino Oceanus – appeared on a list released by the Health Bureau shortly after deadline, naming those properties that had submitted the necessary paperwork.
In its Thursday commentary, the Health Bureau appeared to refer to SJM Holdings, but did not mention it by name.
“One gaming concessionaire firm has remarked that they needed time to prepare for their smoking lounges set-up as some of their VIP gaming club facilities required rejig, and hoped the government can simplify and accelerate the approval process for such set up, as well as to extend the period for installing smoking lounges,” the Health Bureau noted.
“The Health Bureau stresses that it continues to receive the related requests for setting up smoking lounges inside casinos, and will process these requests through rigorous assessment and pre-defined procedures,” the bureau’s statement added, hinting there would be no change in the actual application and assessment processes.
On the sidelines of SJM Holdings’ cocktail reception on Thursday to mark China’s National Day on October 1, Steve Kok Vai Kei, director of casino operations of the firm, confirmed to media it was looking to set up “over 40” new, upgraded smoking lounges for VIP gaming areas in its core properties, as well as in some satellite casinos.
“We’ve told the government before, that as it [the process] involves several government departments, we hope that they could coordinate the work, and speed up or simplify the approval procedures, so that everyone can complete their works by the deadline,” remarked CEO Mr So.
Mr So added, referring to remarks he made to some local media on Monday: “As I said before, if such [approval] cannot be done in time, we also hope that the government can grant us some extra time.”
Health Bureau director Lei Chin Ion had previously said late applications might not be approved until February or March 2019, as such approval involved three government departments: the Health Bureau, the Fire Services Bureau and the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau.
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