The number of pending applications for smoking lounges in Macau’s casino market has piled up on the government’s desk.
Quoting a written reply of Health Bureau director Lei Chin Ion to Macau legislator Ella Lei Cheng I, GGRAsia reported that at least 73 smoking lounges are still waiting for Macau government to approve their application.
The letter, however, failed to mention which casinos had requested the government to approve their smoking lounges nor stated which casinos got the greenlight. What is clear is that there are a total of 86 smoking lounges that received a stamp of approval from the government – 83 of which were located on main or ‘mass’ gaming floors; while the remaining three smoking lounges were situated in “areas restricted to certain gamblers.”
Two years ago, the government introduced a partial smoking ban that restricted smoking on casino main floors in the city state to the airport-style enclosed smoking lounges that do not have gaming tables or slot machines. Smoking cigarettes in VIP rooms are still allowed.
Macau officials, however, are committed to putting a stop to smoking in all casinos in the city state. The plan, which was announced in June 2015, mirrors Beijing efforts to reduce smoking in public places in the mainland to reduce health costs brought by the country’s 300 million smokers.
The government’s plan involved raising smoking-related fines from their current range of MOP 400-100,000 (US$50-$12,500) to MOP 1,500-200,000.
From a total of 298 people during the first eight months of 2015, the Health Bureau announced that the number of persons slapped with fine rose by 32.2 percent to 394 people in the same period this year.
Statistics showed that 78.2 percent of those who were fined in the January to August 2016 period were foreigners.
Information from Macau’s Health Bureau records a total of 326 site inspections inside casinos between January and end-August: up from 301 inspections in the first eight months of 2015.