A leading local casino operator in Chile has opened its first smoking area for its customers.
Enjoy which operates over 6,000 slot machines, 274 tables and 860 bingo seats in Chile has opened up a specially designed outside smoking space on its premises in Coquimbo.
In June Enjoy had reported that revenues were down due to the implementation of the smoking ban in Chile. The smoking ban, which went into effect on March 1 2013, banned smoking in closed areas such as pubs, nightclubs restaurants and casinos. With a smoking rate of around 40 per cent Chile has the highest percentage of smokers in Latin America.
General Manager of the Enjoy Casino, Roberto Minica revealed the company had set up a space in its casino which would provide its customers with a “pleasant environment with the best equipment and the best slots.” The area consists of a 47 metre square space with 159 slot machines and the temperature can be fully controlled.
It is the first of what could be a number of specially designed gaming rooms for smokers in Chile. In June Enjoy announced that it had applied for permission from the government to open up a number of smoking areas with slot machines and announced its intention to open up a number of comfortable outside spaces for its customers.
The smoking ban along with the sharp growth of illegal slot parlours has had an increasingly negative impact on the casino industry in Chile. Statistics released by the Chilean Gaming Control (SJC) Board show that visitor numbers in March and April of 2013 decreased by 13 per cent compared to the same period the previous year when the smoking ban was not in place. In addition, according to the latest figures released by SJC this week gross income is down by more than 10 per cent this year compared to the same period last year. The SCJ revealed that from January to July this year gross income stood at US$294.2m compared to US$329.9m in 2012 – a fall of 10.8 per cent.