After Macau authorities brought in new smoking regulations, they conducted a series of “sniff tests” to ensure that casinos were applying the necessary changes. It has emerged, however, that 16 casinos have failed the second round – a drop from the 28 who failed first time round, but still a substantial number.
With Chinese gambling laws restricting casinos to Macau, the city state has seen record growth in recent years, overtaking Las Vegas as the world’s premier gambling hub. Despite this, the local government now want to alter the laws to protect local citizens.
Interestingly, it is thought that the 16 casinos that fell foul of the regulations were all owned by one operator: SJM Holdings. SJM CEO Ambrose So has even come out publicly to say that SJM casinos should be given an exemption from the new smoking ban due to their age.
Macau casino tourism has continued to flourish despite the rise of online and mobile casinos around the world. Of course, with gambling banned across the rest of China – excluding Hong Kong – Chinese bettors flock to Macau with regularity, but it is the foreign and business tourists that bring in the most revenue.
Should anything happen to SJM Holdings, though, it would represent one of the biggest pieces of gambling news to hit the world, never mind Macau. As the operator held a monopoly on gambling until 2002, it holds the majority of casinos in Macau, despite the presence of a number of worldwide players.
With plans afoot for further Asia Pacific and Far Eastern casinos – such as in Japan and Far East Russia – Macau’s status as the jewel of international gambling is surely under threat. How much threat remains to be seen, but these smoking laws could have a big effect on some of the major players.