Smoking ban under review


Is the Macau Government considering amendments to or revoking the smoking ban in casinos? The Macau Legislative Assembly is holding a second reading of proposed legislation on Friday with the smoking ban in casinos under review. If passed, the ban that prevents smoking in any area of a casino that offers gambling or restricts the activity to ‘smoking lounges’ may get even more stringent.
One of the great things about Macau, in my opinion, is the smoking ban. Unlike Las Vegas, where you walk through a casino for mere minutes and come out completely covered with the smell of cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke, Macau casinos are free of this air pollution. The ban creates a clean air quality that is quite appealing for patrons, especially non-smokers who want to enjoy a cocktail, dinner, or gambling without immediately feeling the need to remove the smell of smoke upon returning home.
I may be a minority in these beliefs when many of our annual 20 million Mainland China tourists are smokers but the smoking ban in Macau creates a welcoming atmosphere that shouldn’t be ignored. The ban on smoking of tobacco on mass market casino floors with the exception of the fully enclosed and games-free ‘smoking lounges’ began in October 2014, but this law did not include VIP gaming areas, where it is still legal to have a puff.
Around 328 people have been fined since January for breaking the ban, representing an increase of 18.4 per cent year-on-year, with 83.5 per cent of these offenders tourists. If the law is approved on Friday, the new legislation would purportedly come into effect on January 1, 2018. All gaming establishments, until the first day of 2019, will have to build any future ‘smoking lounges’ in their establishments complying with enhanced technical standards, as set out by the revised draft of the legislature.
Casinos are continually looking for ways to stand out from their competition, especially with high-level VIP gamblers to attract. I’m confident that all of our casinos will quickly jump at the chance of creating smoking lounges for their special clientele. If the increased standards pass into law, some VIPs may be slightly inconvenienced but at least they will still be able to smoke indoors.
As I mentioned before, our smoking ban sets Macau apart in a positive way in the gaming world, and I hope it continues.