he demonstration was headed by the union’s high-profile president Cloee Chao Sao Fong, and lasted for about an hour, Macau News reported.
The protestors also urged the city’s six gaming operators to explain what they do with “shared tips” – given by gamblers to individual dealers but collected by the companies. Concerning the issue, the union told reporters that the gaming operators have adopted this practice during the last decade or so. The union said that in the early 2000s the operators usually used the shared tips to organize activities for employees, a practice which was later abandoned.
Before the start of the protest, representatives of the union handed a petition to an official outside the Smoking Prevention and Control Office of the Health Bureau (SSM) at the World Trade Centre Macau in Zape, where the protestors started their march at 4:30 p.m.
The petition addressed to the office calls for the setting-up of a blacklist for illegal smoking repeat offenders in casinos. The petition suggests that those who repeat the violation in a particular casino for the second time should be permanently banned from entering this casino.
The new version of the Tobacco Prevention and Control Law, which took effect on January 1 this year, allows casinos to set up smoking lounges in gaming areas in line with the new standards set by the government.
Before the new version of the law took effect, smoking had already been banned in casinos’ mass-market areas, although smoking lounges with separate ventilation systems were permitted, while high-rollers were still allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas in VIP rooms.
The new version of the law states that smoking lounges with the new officially required standards will have to be set up within a year of the law coming into force – i.e. by January 1, 2019. The current smoking lounges and smoking areas can remain in place during the one-year interim period, before casinos finish setting up the smoking lounges in accordance with the new official standards.
Under the new version of the law, those found smoking in a no-smoking area face a fine of 1,500 patacas, while they were fined between 400 patacas and 600 patacas before the new version of the law took effect.
The petition addressed to the Smoking Prevention and Control Office also calls for the imposition of a fine on those gaming operators who tolerate gamblers smoking in no-smoking areas.
The petition, a copy of which was given by the union to the media, also says that while the fine for illegal smoking has been increased to 1,500 patacas from 600 patacas under the new version of the anti-smoking law, the operators of the respective venues do not face any penalty for tolerating their customers smoking illegally there. The petition calls for the imposition of a fine of 15,000 patacas on operators tolerating illegal smoking by gamblers.
The protestors marched past StarWorld Hotel and Wynn Macau in Nape before the demonstration ended peacefully outside Government Headquarters in Nam Van, where representatives of the union handed in a second petition, addressed to Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On.
In addition to the casino smoking issue, the petition addressed to Chui also urged the government to work on the issue of the shared tips.
The union told reporters that about 300 people took part in the protest, while the police told the media that about 200 people participated in the demonstration.