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Smoking ban to harm casino revenues

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The ban on smoking inside casinos could lead to a 20 percent drop in gaming revenues, the president of American Gaming Association (AGA) Frank Fahrenkopf told reporters during the 2010 Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia).
“If smoking will not be allowed, I believe there will be a substantial drop in revenues. I think that it will be more significant than 20 percent, because I have noticed that there are more people smoking in Asia than in the USA or other countries,” he said on Tuesday.
Fahrenkopf stressed that gambling and smoking are closely linked, warning that in the US and New Zealand revenues plunged around 20 percent since similar bans were established. “There are some casinos in the US that had to put slot machines outside,” he said.
The Macau Government plans to ban smoking in a large list of public places, including casinos. However, exceptions were established for casinos, massage lounges and dance halls where designated smoking areas will allow people to continue to smoke in these venues.
Such a measure is being roundly criticized by lawmakers and several circles of the community. Next Tuesday, the Government will present a second draft of the System for the Prevention and Control of Tobacco Smoking to the Second Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly and many changes are expected.
Despite the possible effects from the smoking ban, the AGA president said the overall picture of Macau’s gaming industry growth is very optimistic.
He said the Territory has nothing to fear from the impact of other regional gaming jurisdictions, such as Singapore.
“The gaming market in Asia will grow much more and Macau will have nothing to fear,” Fahrenkopf said.
He continued: “As Cotai is completed, Macau will offer the same kind of experience as Las Vegas, where a visitor can go to the strip and find different infrastructures and varied offer of entertainment.” Meanwhile, Taiwan will conclude legislation on gaming by 2012. However, lawyer Benjamin Li told Portuguese news agency Lusa, that just like Singapore, Taiwan should not issue more than two licenses.

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