Penalties on the Way for Smoky Casinos

The Macau government is taking away portions of the smoking areas from 14 casinos that failed two air-quality tests. The size of the reductions will be announced later this month.

Penalties on the Way for Smoky Casinos

Fourteen gaming venues that failed a second round of air quality tests under Macau’s new smoking restrictions will be told by the end of the month how much smoking space they will lose under the law.

Health Bureau Deputy Director Chan Wai Sin said reduction plans submitted by the properties were under study.

“I hope we can have the latest information ready for the public very soon,” he said.

Casinos and slot arcades have been required since the beginning of last year to set aside 50 percent of their gaming floors as non-smoking. Subsequent testing found 16 venues were still too smoky and penalized them with 10 percent reductions of their smoking space. Two of the venues, both Mocha-branded slot halls, have since closed and were replaced by new facilities in different locations.

The challenges in keeping half the casino floors smoke-free have proven difficult to implement, especially at the older properties that operate as sub-licensees of SJM. All six concessionaires have since requested permission to set up non-gaming smoking rooms as an alternative, and the government is studying the proposal. SJM, in the meantime, has already begun testing the plan with a smoking room in the Crystal Palace Casino, an aging two-story wing of the old Casino Lisboa, Stanley Ho’s flagship casino in the monopoly days prior to 2002 and one of Macau’s oldest gambling halls. The casino houses some 36 baccarat tables and a handful of sic bo and blackjack tables under low ceilings that naturally trap cigarette smoke. 

“We will have to continue with the test over a longer period of time to see if it will help improve results of air quality tests in the main area,” said SJM Executive Director Angela Leong.

She said the company will be installing smoking rooms in other casinos as well.