MACAU SMOKING BAN

Smoking ban is real but likely to exclude VIP/Premium Mass and deadline delays likely

CALL TO ACTION

Today’s pronouncement regarding full smoking ban on mass floors beginning Monday, October 6, 2014 is not a positive.  Unfortunately, the operators appear to have not taken the health issue as seriously as they could/should have given all the discussions, working groups and testing.  However, given that the partial smoking ban had no discernible impact and we don’t believe the premium mass nor VIP smokers will be affected, the disruption could only be minor.  Moreover, the deadline is likely to be pushed back. 

THE SETUP

Given the recent Labor Day protests in Macau and the smoking debate, this policy outcome seemed an inevitable conclusion.  Based on our conversations with our contacts in Macau, we understand:

  • VIP rooms and Premium Mass will be excluded
  • Operators will build “smoking lounges” on the mass floors.  We are told the lounges will be plentiful (probably located in the former watch, jewelry and pawn shops)
  • This means most gamblers will slip in for a quick cigarette between shuffles or when they need a change of luck
  • Possible impact on GGR in the short term from the business disruption as all the construction works are going on but these guys are pretty tolerant of that kind of distraction
  • Basically, this is nothing more than a short term (probably 1 or 2 week) disruption retraining mass gamblers about smoking regulations
  • We would not be surprised to see potential “red tape” delays in the implementation of the mass smoking ban 

TIMELINE

Since the opening of the casinos and gaming floors in Macau, the question of whether or not to allow smoking on gaming floors has been raised.  We outline the smoking ban development in the timeline below.

 

June 17, 2010

SMOKING TO BE ALLOWED IN CASINOS FOR A THREE-YEAR PERIOD Macau Daily Times

The latest version of the tobacco ban bill draft declares that smoking will be allowed in "venues for adults"--i.e. casinos, bars, terraces and business open areas, massage lounges and dance halls--for a three-year period.  According to Chan Chak Mo, who heads the Second Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly, pressure from several industries led to this decision. “  After two years, the government says that a revision of the law should be done in order to decide if the suspension continues in the third year or not,” added Chan.

April 18, 2011

LEGISLATURE APPROVES SMOKING BILL Macau Daily Times

As expected, the tobacco bill passed the final reading.  Ng Kuok Cheong, Au Kam San, Chan Wai Chi, José Pereira Coutinho, Ho Ion Sang voted against the partial smoking ban in casinos.  They believed that casinos should be subject to a complete smoking ban.  The smoking law will be enacted on January 1, 2012, while casinos will be required to build a smoking area with a size not larger than 50% of total public area by January 1, 2013.

An order from the Macau CEO regarding the smoking ban was published in the Macau Gazette on November 5th and is summarized below:

  • Rules apply to all table games and slot machines
  • Smoking areas cannot be greater than 50% of the total area for the public
  • This rule excludes non-gaming establishments
  • Smoking areas must display the following:
    • Posters addressing no-smoking zones
    • Label with minimum dimension (40cm x 30cm) in Chinese, Portguese, and English
    • Separation from other installations
    • Ventilation systems
  • Smoking area locations
    • In casinos with several floors and an atrium, smoking areas should be located on the upper floors
    • In casinos with a single floor, smoking area must be located opposite and separate from the non-smoking area.
  • Non-smoking areas can be achieved through the following measures:
    • Air curtain system
    • Transition area with inflation system
    • Transition area of at least 4 meters
    • Installation of a wall or fence with a minimum of 2 meters

January 1, 2013

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said that while the government is strictly enforcing the partial smoking ban in casinos they are still fine-tuning some of the rules.  The partial smoking ban that took effect on January 1, allows casinos to have smoking areas in up to 50% of the gaming floor area. The rules do not set up a minimum ratio for the number of slots and tables to be included in smoking and non-smoking area.

The Macau Health Bureau repeatedly tested the casinos for air quality during 2013

Many casinos fail the air quality tests… Trade unions blamed the government for being too lenient towards casinos in the enforcement of partial smoking bans in all gaming venues.