Macau authorities target casino players smoking in forbidden areas

  • Macau increases health inspections in casino during 2017, with almost 60% more smoking fines issued than in 2016
  • Tourists make up for over 80% of those finding themselves on the wrong side of the anti-smoking laws

Macau has been waging war on smoking for some time now, which wasn’t welcomed by many casinos, as the ban on smoking at the tables was bound to adversely affect their bottom line.

Men smoking in casino
Macau authorities target casino players smoking in forbidden areas

However, Macau authorities don’t seem to care too much, as they’ve upped their anti-smoking game in 2017, with nearly 60% more fines issued than during the last year.

Pushing smoking out of the casinos

Macau first banned smoking on the casino mass floors in 2014. The only way regular players could light a cigarette on the floor was if the casino had a separate, enclosed smoking lounge. The first installment of the anti-smoking law still allowed for tobacco consumption in casino VIP and high roller areas.

However, a couple of months ago, Macau legislators adopted a revised bill that will see all smoking at the tables banned, including VIP areas. The bill will only take effect on January 1, 2018, and the casinos will be given a one year grace period where they’ll still be able to allow table-side smoking until they establish smoking lounges in VIP sections.

Macau inspectors have already announced that smoking lounges will need to conform to enhanced technical standards, although, at the present time, there aren’t any exact details about what these standards will entail.

Tourists on the receiving end

During 2017, there were 426 inspections in land-based casinos around Macau – a significant increase in relation to the first seven months of 2016, which saw 286. In total, 337 people had been fined so far, which represents 59.6% increase compared to the last year.

According to the information released by the Macau Health Bureau, a majority of those who found themselves on the receiving end of the anti-smoking laws were tourists. Visitors from abroad accounted for 83.8 percent of those fined.

The ban on smoking in Macau has been a very controversial topic for the region that generates most income from gambling.

Casino operators know that the ban on smoking is bound to decrease the time people, especially high rollers, are willing to spend at the tables. However, the government doesn’t seem to share in on this concern, and prioritize health issues over any potential gaming losses.

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