Macau smoking ban would cost jobs

Nov 27, 2015 9:30 AM

More than 1,000 Macau casino jobs will be lost if the government goes through with a proposed plan to eliminate smoking in casinos.

The prediction came from Macau lawmaker Andrew Chan Chak Mo who said the six casino operators and the leadership of the junket operators association attended a recent meeting of the Legislature’s Second Standing Committee. The body is continuing its review of proposed amendments to the Tobacco Control and Prevention Law.

As is customary the meeting was closed to the news media, according to a Macau report, but questions were asked and answered later

The outline of the bill was passed by the Legislature in July and the Committee is now in the midst of an article-by-article review of the proposed changes.

Chan pointed out in a later conversation with the news media that the casino operators did not provide any plans for improvements in the smoking lounges that have been proposed as a long term compromise to a total ban. There was only a promise that details will be provided at a later date.

MGM Co-Chair Pansy Ho Chui-king told reporters after the session that the six casino operators were in agreement that the smoking lounges should remain.

The operators and junket association have been attempting to mount as much of a show of force as is possible in Macau. We’re together on this, is the message that is being projected.

The six companies commissioned a study earlier this year that attempted to quantify the projected impact of a ban. The conclusion was that the ban would cause Macau’s gross domestic product to dip another 16 percent on top of the declines that have been experienced over he last year and a half.

Chan said the association represents 100 VIP rooms with about 2,000 gaming tables and 10,000 employees.

The proposed smoking ban is not the only issue weighing on Macau business where companies like MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands are major players, but it appears to be more open to discussion than the slowdown in mainland China's economy and the Beijing-directed anti-corruption campaign.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].