Macau’s casinos currently allow gamblers to smoke in VIP enclosures and mass market gamblers to use an airport style lounge to smoke, as smoking is banned at the gaming tables and slot machine floors. Macau legislators proposed a new bill in 2015 that would look to impose a blanket ban on all forms of smoking and tobacco related products.
Macau legislators reviewed the bill on July 10 and send it to the legislative assembly for review. The assembly put together a working committee who was supposed to examine the pros and cons of the proposed bill and submit a final report based on which a decision would be taken on implementing the blanket smoking ban.
However Macau’s Legislative Assembly is yet to submit its final report and has not given any indication as to when its review would be completed. The Assembly will take a summer break in August and it now appears that the full report could be submitted after the August break for a final reading and vote.
In a statement, Legislator Chan Chak Mo said “We will be meeting with a few [more] groups – labour groups and tobacco traders – to listen to their opinions on the bill. We’re also collecting more economic data regarding the impact of the bill. So at this stage I don’t know if the bill can be passed [before August].”
When the first reading of the bill took place, the majority of Macau’s legislators were pushing hard for the blanket smoking ban to prevail. That momentum has slowed down considerably after a KPMG survey on Macau’s casino industry stated that a blanket smoking ban could reduce Macau’s gross domestic product by 16 percent. Macau’s casino industry has struggled to post profits for the last 24 months as the anti-corruption crackdown resulted in a collapse of the casino industry. The blanket smoking ban would only add to Macau’s casino woes and also affect the city’s economy, employment opportunities and tourism numbers.
Wynn Macau Ltd, Sands China Ltd, MGM China Holdings Ltd, SJM Holdings Ltd, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and the Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd are not in favour of a blanket smoking ban and had earlier asked Macau’s legislators to consider allowing smoking lounges in casinos that are well ventilated and specifically constructed so that their patrons can enjoy the privilege of smoking at the casino while ensuring that the health of their casino employees is not compromised.
The working committee has delayed submitting its report as it has been holding lengthy discussions with senior executives from these six casino concessionaires, junket operators and local labour groups. The committee is also in the process of reviewing two other bills and will most likely make a decision on Macau’s smoking bill before the end of this year.