Legislative Assembly largely in favor of smoking lounges

Macau’s Legislative Assembly has voted in favor of smoking lounges instead of a total smoking ban in the city’s gaming venues, local media reports.

According to the chairman of the Legislative Assembly sub-committee, Chan Chak Mo, quoted by Lusa, only two members of the committee supported the implementation of a full smoking ban in the city’s gaming venues whilst the other seven members have agreed with the idea of setting up smoking lounges as long as it can be ensured that smoke will not spread.

The full smoking ban bill, which passed its first reading the Legislative Assembly this year, proposes to prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of gaming venues.

According to Union Gaming in a note on Friday, the smoking issue will take some time to resolve, and they expect the issue will be put to rest in 2017, meaning there should not be “any further risk to near-term estimate revisions on account of smoking.”

In related news, a recent study has revealed that the smoking ban in Macau has had a significant impact on casino revenue, especially in traditional casinos where gaming is the focus, reports Lusa.

The study, conducted by the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST), has shown that “traditional casinos” where “97 to 99 percent of revenue” comes from gaming, has been hurt the most by the smoking ban, compared to their Las Vegas-style peers.

In 2014, casinos were required to create enclosed smoking zones with negative pressure and ventilation systems, and banned smoking in mass market areas.

The study claimed that these measures have greatly affected casinos with older designs, where renovation of ventilation systems can be complex and unfeasible.

Spaces held by SJM and Galaxy Macau, which were built between 1987 and 1992 were stated as examples, said Lusa, while spaces held by Sands China and Wynn Macau established after 2004 already saw their infrastructure following standards from the United States.

While the latest sentiments from the AL regarding smoking seem positive, there is still a risk a smoking ban may be implemented regardless, says Union gaming.

“We think that casino workers could have an outsized influence on what ultimately happens with respect to smoking. From our point of view, as we monitor popular sentiment we are not seeing a significant number of complaints arising from casino workers on the mass market floors that have had smoking lounges for the last year and a half. This is good news, although something that should be entirely expected given that smoking lounges are commonplace in various public venues.”