Macau Health Bureau staff conducted 1,058 joint patrols of the city’s gaming floors alongside officials from the local casino regulator in the first 10 months of 2019. The tally was up 45.9 percent year-on-year, said the Health Bureau in an update published late Friday regarding its enforcement work.
Such inspections had resulted in 1,183 instances of alleged smoking rule violations being identified and acted upon, 17.3 percent fewer year-on-year, according to the document. Those incidents accounted for 25.9 percent of public smoking infractions citywide in the 10 months to October 31.
In October alone, the MGM Macau casino – run by casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd – was identified as a “black spot” for alleged smoking rule violations, the Health Bureau said in its Friday statement.
There are 47 active gaming venues in the city, according to data from the local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Many of the venues have either multiple gaming floors or multiple gaming areas, including VIP zones often physically separate from the main gaming facilities.
Up to December 31, VIP rooms had been the only places in Macau casinos where smoking was still legally permitted at a gaming table. New rules on smoking in public places in Macau came into effect on January 1, 2018, although a one-year grace period for the casino industry meant VIP room table side smoking had been possible for a further 12 months.
As of October 31, the Health Bureau had given permission for an aggregate of 613 new-style smoking lounges – as required under new legislation – for a total of 33 gaming venues in the city.
The Health Bureau noted on Friday that as of last month it had received requests for an aggregate of 650 smoking lounges from 35 casinos in Macau. It didn’t name them, nor did it identify those venues that had simply chosen not ask permission for new-style smoking lounges.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance