Health advocates call for smoking ban in Crown Melbourne high-roller rooms

Smoking is currently permitted only in high-roller rooms.
Smoking is currently permitted only in high-roller rooms.

Casinos in Victoria are exempt from smoking regulations, but health campaigners have urged politicians to remove the exemption.

Australia.- A group of health advocates are pushing for authorities in Victoria to ban smoking in high-roller rooms at Crown Resorts’ casino in the state. Victoria’s Royal Commission, led by Judge Raymond Finkelstein, recommended a ban, but Crown Melbourne’s high-roller rooms currently remain exempt from the state’s indoor smoking ban.

Todd Harper, the chief executive of Cancer Council Victoria, told The Guardian: “Employees in Victoria’s bars and clubs have been able to work in a safe, smoke-free environments… so it is disappointing that Crown employees have had to wait so long for similar protections.

“I ask all members of parliament to support the protection of Crown employees from the harms of secondhand tobacco smoke.”

When smoking was prohibited in other indoor areas of the casino, gambling expenditure fell by about 15 per cent, according to associate professor Charles Livingstone, head of the gambling and social determinants unit at Monash University’s school of public health and preventive medicine.

Victoria’s Royal Commission made 33 recommendations, some of which have already been implemented. As a result of new legislation, every Australian resident who uses the pokies must set a maximum loss limit before playing. Crown has until the end of 2023 to implement the mandatory pre-commitments, with full implementation needed no later than 2025. Customers will be able to see any loss limit they choose.

Other new measures include limiting cash transactions to $1,000 per 24 hours in a bid to crack down on money laundering. Meanwhile, Crown will be made to pay for the cost of regulating the casino. The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission will have to approve any ownership of more than 5 per cent of the casino operator.

Crown Sydney opens casino for VIP gaming

Earlier this month, Crown Resorts finally began gaming at its Crown Sydney venue with the opening of the VIP Crystal Room on its main floor. Other parts of the venue have been open since late 2020, but the opening of the casino had been delayed due to the New South Wales inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a licence.

Crown Sydney chief executive Simon McGrath has previously said there would be 160 gaming tables and 66 electronic gaming tables available at the Crystal Room. The Mahogany floor to follow in October. There are no slot machines.

Initially, Black and Platinum Crown Rewards members and their guests will be able to access the Crystal Room, followed by Gold Crown Rewards members later.

According to Macquarie Group Limited, Crown’s casino venue will control 35 per cent of Sydney’s tables-based gambling market by 2025, worth AU$923m. Macquarie also forecasted a VIP turnover of AU$10bn by 2025.

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Crown Resorts