Macau casinos will be forced to go completely smoke-free, which analysts believe will further delay the gambling hub’s recovery from its current slump.
The special administrative region’s government posted a notice to its official website on Tuesday, affirming its commitment to ending all smoking in Macau casinos. The plan mirrors Beijing’s efforts to reduce smoking in public places on the mainland to reduce health costs associated with the country’s 300m smokers.
To ensure compliance with the new regime, Macau plans to raise smoking-related fines from their current range of MOP 400-100k (US $50-$12,500) to MOP 1,500-200k. Even the use of electronic cigarettes will be forbidden in casinos and their sale banned outright throughout Macau.
Macau’s government introduced a partial smoking ban last October that restricted smoking to VIP gaming rooms and specially constructed airport-style smoking lounges on the main gaming floor. Both of these exemptions will be eliminated under the new plan, despite protests by casino operators, who spent a lot of time, effort and money altering their properties to comply with the government’s demands.