The ban on smoking in casino mass areas came into effect at 12 a.m. yesterday. The Times spoke to a member of the gaming industry, as well as a representative from a casino employees’ union. Both suggest that while the ban does not currently have a huge impact on gamers, it will take some time for long-term effects to appear.
Additionally, a source from the gambling industry told the Times that they still cannot see any changes after the smoking ban was imposed. They believe that it will take some time to educate users about not smoking in the mass areas. Nevertheless, based on their observations, most visitors would comply when they are told not to smoke in the non-smoking areas.
The same source said that it would be “quite interesting” to see how some large-scale operators, whose smoking rooms were either in the construction process or not approved by the government, can effectively enforce the law, especially given that the only viable option would be to ask their guests to go outside if they want to smoke.
Currently, the government does not allow casino operators to place any gambling facilities in the smoking rooms. While they do not object to such a measure, the source suggested that existing regulations on other aspects of casino management can be relaxed a little bit.
For example, they believe that it would be “pretty boring” for the gamers to merely sit in a smoking room with no services available to them. Although they do not believe it is an issue for limited entertainment facilities to be available in smoking rooms at a airports, they believe that this is not suitable for the hospitality industry.
As a result, they suggested that the government should allow casinos to provide snacks and water to the guests inside smoking rooms.
Meanwhile, Cloee Chao, secretary of the casino employees’ group Forefront of Macau Gaming (FMG), said that based on the information she has gathered, all casinos have complied with the smoking ban in mass areas.
However, for those casinos that do not have smoking rooms, some employees told Ms Chao that gamblers resort to smoking in the toilets. Staff did not try to intervene.
“There are also some guests who smoke electronic cigarettes. The management has ignored it. They (the staff) asked me if an electronic cigarette counts as a cigarette. I don’t know what to tell them”, she said.
Moreover, the FMG secretary said that the gamers seem to have no problem with the smoking ban and did not become more irritable. In fact, she said that croupiers are more willing to interact with clients now because they are not worried about inhaling too much second-hand smoke while talking.
Additionally, officials from the Health Bureau and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, have inspected several casinos soon after the smoking ban came into place. During their inspection, officials did find a guest who was suspected to have smoked in the non-smoking area. Staffs from the Tobacco Control Office then continued to give them a ticket.
SSM deputy director Cheang Seng Ip told the media that the authorities still do not have a timetable for a total smoking ban.
Casinos with smoking rooms approved
Mocha Hotel Royal
Mocha Hotel Sintra
Mocha Inner Harbour
Mocha Macau Tower
Sands Cotai Central