We all get it. Gambling is a stressful activity. There’s a lot riding on the line—perhaps a few hundred dollars or even as much as a wife or a house. Smokers who gamble find themselves in an anxiety-riddled environment, all too often feeling the urge to light up to curb their addiction and calm their nerves. Unfortunately for gamblers in Macau, recent anti-smoking regulations make it next to impossible to satisfy that need while inside a casino. However, rules are meant to be broken.
Previous legislation in Macau prohibited smoking anywhere in casinos. This was changed, however, in 2014 due primarily to a sharp decline in casino attendance. That year, the law was amended to allow smoking in certain designated lounges inside casinos and VIP rooms, but it was still outlawed on casino mass floors.
The laws were again changed in 2017, banning smoking in the VIP rooms. The law was to be applicable as of January 1, 2018, but casinos were given a grace period to set up VIP smoking lounges that would move the effective date to January 1, 2019. Recent inspections, however, have shown that the casinos aren’t living up to their end of the bargain.
In the first quarter of 2018, violations of anti-smoking laws accounted for 27.8% of all the infractions levied against the casinos, according to local media reports quoting Macau Health Bureau data. A total of 236 inspections were conducted, and detection of unlawful smoking had increased by 138.6%. The increase was due in part to a greater number of inspections being performed at the casinos.
The increase in inspections comes about, in part, because of complaints by casino employees. Most notably, Wynn Macau employees had lodged the highest number of complaints, even before Steve Wynn began his downhill tumble. There have been a total of 1,425 indictments for smoking infractions during the first three months of 2018.
When the rules began to change last year, Macau’s Health Bureau started its crackdown. It said at the time, “The Health Bureau and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau have reinforced the frequency of inspections in casinos, in order to have a more effective enforcement against illegal smoking behaviors in casinos.”
Casinos aren’t the only places that smokers continue to feed their addiction. Parks and leisure areas, which have almost a complete ban on smoking, saw an increase in infractions of 11.4%.