Macau continues crackdown on illegal casino smoking

Gaming and health regulators in Macau are diligently working together to end smoking in casinos. The Macau Health Bureau (MHB) released a report on November 8 that shows it, along with regulators from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ, for its Portuguese acronym), paid 1,058 visits to casinos’ gaming floors from January to October of this year. This is an increase of 45.9% over the number of visits during the same period last year, and coincides with the city’s implementation of strict no-smoking rules that took effect as of January 1, 2019.

Out of all the casino inspections, 1,183 violations of the city’s smoking ban were identified. This was 17.3% fewer than what had been recorded across the same ten months of last year and represents 25.9% of all the violations that were recorded over the period. One of the most egregious violators was the MGM Macau, which the MHB called a “black spot” for infractions.

It’s been a couple of years now since Macau decided to implement a strict ban on smoking, especially in gaming facilities. Since then, the city has made it clear what was expected and what was allowed, giving casinos a little flexibility by allowing them to permit smoking in VIP rooms until the end of last year. By then, casinos had to cut off the habit and, if desired, construct special smoking rooms with superior ventilation systems to keep the cigarette smoke from wafting into the gaming areas.

616 of those smoking rooms had been approved as of the end of October, according to the MHB, in 34 gambling properties across the city. That’s up from 562 from this past summer and requests for a total of 650 have been made by 35 casinos since the updated policy went into effect, but procrastination in properly outfitting the smoking rooms has led to delays in approvals.

The MGM Macau, run by MGM Resorts International subsidiary MGM China, isn’t the only property to have earned the “black spot” badge this year. In June, Grand Lisboa was given one, as well. It isn’t clear in the latest data the SJM Holdings property has cleaned up its image.

Across all segments of Macau’s economy, the MHB conducted a total of 258,456 inspections in the first ten months of the year, looking for violations of the smoking rules. Of those visits, it identified a total of 4,168 cases that were worth prosecuting.