Amid criticism that the government is not taking the health concerns of players and casino staff seriously, legislators in Macau are reportedly set to consider revised legislation later this week that would alter the rules on the smoking of tobacco in the city’s over 30 gambling establishments.
According to a report from GGRAsia, the 33-member Legislative Assembly is to hold a second reading of proposed legislation on Friday that would, if passed, outlaw smoking in any area of a casino that offers gambling and restrict the activity solely to airport-style “smoking lounges” that are free from games.
If ratified, the legislation would reportedly come into effect from January 1 while casinos would have until the first day of 2019 to bring any future “smoking lounges” fully into line with the updated standards.
“We have reviewed the draft of the report [on the revised legislation] and basically there are no issues,” Chan Chak Mo, President of the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee, told GGRAsia last month. “But some legislators want to add some details so we are trying to include in our report as much of their comment as possible. After the amendment, we hope to sign the report in the next meeting.”
The government of Macau banned the smoking of tobacco on mass-market casino floors with the exception of the fully enclosed and games-free “smoking lounges” in October of 2014 although this prohibition did not cover VIP gaming areas. Figures from the former Portuguese enclave’s Health Bureau show that 328 people were fined during the first six months of 2017 for breaking the ban, which represented an increase of 18.4% year-on-year, with 83.5% of these being tourists.
A note published by brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited in March reportedly predicted that the implementation of a full ban on the use of tobacco while gambling would produce a “manageable” negative impact on Macau casinos equivalent to about 5% of their annual gross gaming revenues.