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Macau Smoke Ban Bill Unlikely To Be Cleared Before August

MacauThe head of the working committee of Legislative Assembly in Macau which has been examining the bill to expand the smoking ban in Macau’s casinos has stated that the bill is not likely to be cleared before August of this year.

Casinos in Macau currently restrict smoking to designated areas within their premises. Mass market gamblers are allowed to smoke in an airport style lounges while VIP gamblers smoke in VIP enclosures.

A new bill was introduced in 2015 which proposed a blanket ban on smoking and all related tobacco products inside the casinos. A working committee was created to explore the impact of the bill before taking further action but the committee is yet to submit its final report.

The head of the committee recently stated that the final report will take time and will most likely not be ready before August. The assembly in Macau takes a summer break in August and will most likely come back after its vacation to make a final decision on the blanket smoking ban.

In a statement, Legislator Chan Chak Mo said

We will be meeting with a few [more] groups – labour groups and tobacco traders – to listen to their opinions on the bill. We’re also collecting more economic data regarding the impact of the bill. So at this stage I don’t know if the bill can be passed [before August].

Many legislators had expressed support for the new bill which wanted to ban smoking inside casinos during the first reading of the legislation. However results from a KPMG survey conducted earlier this year suggest that a ban on smoking inside casinos could lead to a reduction of 16 percent in Macau’s gross domestic product. This has caused a lot of the concerned parties to debate the blanket smoking ban and have more meetings with all the stakeholders involved in the Macau casino industry.

Macau’s casino industry has been witnessing a severe slump for past 24 months due to the anti-corruption campaign in China. The blanket ban in smoking could further worsen the situation considerably.

All the major casino operators in the city, MGM China Holdings Ltd, Wynn Macau Ltd, SJM Holdings Ltd, the Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and Sands China Ltd have asked the lawmakers to allow casinos to have well-designed smoking lounges that enable smokers to smoke without harming the health of casino workers.

The committee has so far met senior executives for the casino operators, local labor groups and junket operators to understand the situation better. The committee is reviewing two other bills and is expected to make a decision on the smoking ban before the end of this year.


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