Macau: Smoke-free casinos

Author: | Published: 26 Sep 2016
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Riquito Advogados

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João Nuno Riquito Bruno Almeida

The Macau Gaming Enterprises Staff Association recently renewed the debate surrounding the revision of Law 5/2011, which approved the smoking prevention and control bill. The gaming workers' union is pushing for a full smoking ban on casino premises, on the grounds of a lack of sufficient enforcement of the current bill.

The smoking bill has been in force since the beginning of 2012. It introduced several measures to protect citizens from tobacco smoke, in particular banning smoking in enclosed public spaces.

Casinos were also targeted. However, the bill left the door open for the installation of smoking areas inside casinos. This matter was regulated by Chief Executive Order 296/2012, as amended by Chief Executive Order 141/2014, as well as Instruction 1/2014, issued by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Under these regulations, smoking is currently banned in the mass areas of casinos. Smoking is allowed in smoking lounges (without gaming tables or slot machines) and, more unrestrictedly, in VIP rooms.

However, there are frequently reports of breaches of the regulations. The Macau Health Bureau recently reported that it had found 394 individuals smoking illegally in casinos this year, following 326 inspections conducted between January 1 and August 31.

The government has been planning a full ban for some time now. Legislators have already approved the first reading of a bill for the revision of Law 5/2011, which foresees smoke-free casinos. The specific terms of the revised smoking bill are still subject to discussion and approval.

Following reports on the negative economic impact of a full smoking ban (in 2015 KPMG estimated a 16% reduction in gross domestic product), the government and legislators have not closed the door on further discussion on whether or not Macau's casinos are destined to become smoke-free.

João Nuno Riquito and Bruno Almeida