Not all casinos in Macau will be ready to conform to the city’s partial smoking ban when it kicks in on New Year’s Day, according to Health Bureau director Lei Chin Ion. Just over half the city’s casinos have “yet to make some minor adjustments” necessary to comply with the edict that at least half the gaming floor area is smoke-free. Lei warned that officials had “no room for exercising discretion” in determining compliance and if a casino doesn’t adhere to the guidelines, “a full smoking ban will then have to be applied to the whole venue.” The smoking regulations are due to be “reviewed” three years after implementation.
Macau’s casinos may lack wiggle room on the smoking regulations, but they are increasingly finding ways to get around the gambling enclave’s restrictive cap on the number of gaming tables. First there was the introduction of ‘Siamese’ baccarat tables featuring two dealers handling twice the normal number of players, but because each dealer uses a common drop box, it only counts as a single table under the cap. The latest innovation/dodge comes via ‘Fast Action Baccarat’ (FAB) tables, four of which made their debut at Sands China’s Venetian Macao two weeks ago. The Macau Daily Times quoted Sands China COO David Sisk stressing the fact that his company was “continuously looking for ways to innovate the gaming experience for our customers,” while leaving out the company’s equally continuous search for innovative ways to circumvent the table cap.
The seven-meter-long, three-meter-wide, semi-automated FAB tables feature 28 betting stations capable of handling up to 60 players simultaneously. Chips from losing wagers fall through automatic trap doors onto a conveyer belt that feeds them into a central chipper champ, thereby falling under the definition of a single gaming table. (The ‘F’ in ‘FAB’ should stand for Fudging.) Winning bets are paid out manually by two assistant dealers via ‘movable floats’ aka mobile chip trays. Overhead video displays show players the result of each hand and other monitors provide “360-degree viewing” of the dealer. We hope there’s one more monitor that shows nothing but an endless loop of Sands boss Sheldon Adelson using bricks of money as Lego blocks.