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Macau submits stricter smoking bill

It’s come as no surprise that, after months of worry among Macau operators, smoking in casinos will likely become a thing of the past.

Following a revision to smoking regulation amendments, the Executive Council suggested a full smoking ban in casinos and higher education venues. It also suggested making electronic cigars equivalent to other types of tobacco, prohibiting their usage indoors.

The special administrative region currently bans smoking on mass gaming floors though allows the use of smoking lounges. But the new regulations will see the lounges disappear while also banning smoking in private rooms reserved for VIPs.

The bill will now be sent to the Legislative Assembly, with government officials expecting it to come into effect in early 2016.

Casino revenues have been down for 12 straight months now, with GGR expected to fall 38.3 percent to MOP16.8 billion ($2.1 billion) in June, according to a median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The Macau government has said the smoking ban is in place to protect the health of the public and staff, despite repeated appeals from operators and junkets claiming that a stricter smoking ban will hurt revenues even more.

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