Two Casinos Reach Out to Macau’s Health Bureau Applying for 12 Smoking Lounges

Today, the Health Bureau (SS) of Macau revealed that it has been reached out by two casinos applying to build a total of 12 smoking lounges in their properties as of March 21st. The casino operators that have filed applications seeking the local authorities’ approval, are the recently-opened MGM Cotai and Ponte 16 casino hotel. No additional information about the number of smoking lounges sought to be established by each of the companies was revealed.

According to information provided by the Health Bureau, other casinos in the gambling hub also have intentions to apply, seeking permission to set up smoking lounges in their gambling facilities.

Gaming companies that currently operate in the city have until September 28th to apply for opening new smoking lounges in order for them to have a chance of getting the authorities’ approval before the new smoking ban in casinos comes into effect on January 1st, 2019. Today, the Health Bureau of Macau announced that September 28th would be the last day for local gambling operators to file their applications for setting special smoking lounges with enhanced technical standards in their casino venues.

As far as existing smoking lounges constructed on casino mass floors after the ban are concerned, casino operators would be required to have them upgraded in order for the facilities to meet the new standards imposed by Macau’s Health Bureau.

Macau Casino Smoking Ban

The new regulatory regime on smoking was imposed by the Macau Government in October 2014. At that time, the Government suspended smoking on casino mass floors, with an exception being made for the so-called enclosed smoking lounges.

The latter are special facilities located on some casino mass-market floors, where there are no gaming tables or slot machines, but smoking is allowed. On July 14th 2017, the Legislative Assembly of Macau gave the green light to a revised bill on smoking under which smoking in VIP rooms was suspended. Despite the fact that the amendment was set to be officially enforced on January 1st 2018, visitors of Macau casino VIP rooms are to be given the opportunity for tableside tobacco use until January 1st 2019, because the city’s casinos were provided with a grace period of one year to apply for and set up VIP smoking lounges under the new piece of legislation.

In accordance with the legislation amendment, smoking would be fully banned in casinos as of January 1st 2019, with the only exception being made for the above-mentioned smoking lounges.

The owners of already existing casino smoking lounges would have to submit separate requests to upgrade the facilities and would have to be provided with new licenses from the Macau authorities in order to be given the chance to operate such lounges. In case that any casinos run existing smoking lounges without the necessary technical upgrades and under a newly-issued operating license after the smoking ban comes into effect on January 1st 2019, they could be forced to pay monetary fine of up to MOP 200,000.

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