Durban – While the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products is temporarily banned according to the national regulations related to curbing the spread of Covid-19, you are allowed to smoke at casinos in Durban. Casinos were recently opened under strict regulations.
Suncoast Casino, Hotels, and Entertainment sent SMSes to reward cardholders this week, stating they had opened a new smoking area. According to the SMS, the small gaming floor is situated near the Rose Bar and had more than 40 slots machines available for patrons to enjoy. After a visit to Suncoast, it was apparent that smokers were very comfortable in the section labelled the “Smoking Casino”. With cigarette butts in ashtrays and patrons blowing smoke, there was no sign of any fear of legal ramifications.
Lungi Mtshali, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson, said although the sale of cigarettes was banned, the smoking of cigarettes was not. However, Mtshali said the creation of a new smoking area poses a grave concern.
“This invites a problem. It creates an avenue for the sale of illicit cigarettes. I must reiterate though, the temporary ban is on the sale of cigarettes and not on smoking,” he said.
Mtshali added that smoking in public places was still banned in accordance with the Tobacco Products Control Act 83 of 1993, which has a ban on tobacco advertisements and smoking in public places.
“Although this ban remains in place; venues are allowed to demarcate specific areas for smoking,” said Mtshali.
Kelly Graham, Tsogo Sun’s communications manager said they made changes to the gaming floor formats in relation to customer demand. “All changes to the casino floor are in line with the required regulations,” said Graham.
A concerned patron, who asked not to be named, said he had visited the Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom and noticed people smoking. He said he asked a staff member if smoking was allowed, to which the reply was yes.
Robbie Naidoo, marketing executive at Sibaya Casino, said they had been following government regulations.