According to the CDC, as the number of casinos in the US grows, there’s an increased concern about secondhand smoke exposure for both patrons and casino workers.
And as discussions on banning smoking at Atlantic City casinos continue, the Las Vegas Strip is now in the crosshairs of anti-smoking activists.
Recently, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have made efforts to cut down where people smoke while inside their casinos. Currently, all properties on the Las Vegas Strip, except for Park MGM, still allow smoking on their gaming floors.
The Park MGM casino is smoke-free. MGM also banned smoking on the property at its newly-acquired Cosmopolitan. However, the casino still allows smoking on the Cosmopolitan gaming floor.
US casinos fear revenue decline from a smoking ban
Additionally, Resorts World Las Vegas has banned smoking in parts of its casino except for the casino floor.
As with Atlantic City, casinos fear revenue will decline if there’s a ban on smoking. But according to a Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming study, that is not the case.
Speaking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, said: “As a nation, we have seen a cultural shift away from smoking, with fewer Americans than ever smoking cigarettes.”
Although Belarmino does not see Las Vegas changing its smoking rules anytime soon, a shift could be on the horizon.
“I think the trend of increased nonsmoking space will continue. It can help casinos attract employees who don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke as well as guests. I think we may see a time when only a handful of casinos allow smoking in designated areas.”
Even Bill Miller, CEO of the AGA, said casino operators did not see “detrimental effects” from temporary smoking bans.
Atlantic City smoking ban efforts
Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) is a group in New Jersey leading efforts to ban smoking inside AC casinos.
Lamont White, a casino dealer and leader of CEASE, has been in discussion with New Jersey lawmakers but has been skeptical of the process.
“While we are pleased that Senate President [Nicholas] Scutari has committed to eventually advancing legislation to protect our lives, we cannot wait another year. It is not fair to the workers and the patrons of casinos to have secondhand smoke. Their health trumps any other issue in my mind.”
The group has been pushing for a bill to outlaw smoking inside New Jersey casinos for almost two years. Even though S264 has the support of over half the members of the state Senate and Assembly, it has yet to be called for a vote.
With the November elections coming to a close, NJ lawmakers could finally push the bill through the committee.