Macau softens stance on full smoking ban in casinos

July 14, 2015 09:56
Macau has hinted that it may allow casino operators to permit smoking in VIP rooms, rather than enforce a total smoking ban. Photo: Bloomberg

Macau appears to have eased its stance on a proposal to implement full smoking ban on casino floors, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Tuesday. 

Smoking may be allowed in VIP rooms if the casino operators can assure that they have made adequate arrangements to safeguard people's health, the report said, citing Tam Chon-weng, Macau's Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture.

On July 10, Macau's legislature passed a revised bill on smoking control. However, casino operators have sought some leeway in implementing the smoking ban on gaming floors.

Tam said the government is firm and clear that it intends to curb smoking, and that a thorough study on the impact of a full smoking ban has been completed.

That said, the administration has taken note of the views of market players and may leave some room for casinos to have smoking rooms.

Industry players had expressed concern that a full smoking ban may deter some gamers and affect casino revenues, already under pressure due to China's anti-graft and austerity campaign.

But now the apparent softening of the government's stance has provided some cheer for the industry. Share prices of gaming firms outperformed the broader Hong Kong market on Monday.

Kwok Chi-chung, president of a Macau junket trade group, had called for a win-win proposal that can control smoking without affecting the casinos' business too much.

[Chinese version中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal