When it comes to casino gaming, one constant is smoking. Most casinos in the United States still allow smoking, at least to some degree. There are many health groups that would like to see the activity cease, protecting patrons and employee’s health onsite. In New Jersey, casinos reopened after the pandemic closure with new restrictions in place, including no smoking. The temporary ban remains in place and some groups are now calling for it to become permanent. The casinos disagree.
A Zoom press conference took place yesterday, with advocates of a smoke-free environment showcasing why they think smoking should be a thing of the past. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights president and chief executive, Cynthia Hallett, said that casinos cannot be a modern mainstream industry and still allow indoor smoking.
Hallett pointed out that most young do not smoke and are health conscious. They are also aware of how the COVID-19 virus spreads and that smokers' exhaling is part of the problem. Smoke Free Atlantic City agrees. Co-founder of the organization, Robert Zlotnick, said that no one misses the smokey bars and restaurants in New Jersey. The smoking ban not only affects the casinos but also dining and bar businesses.
Currently, there is legislation on the table that would ban smoking in the casinos of Atlantic City. While this is a possibility, casinos do not want to see it happen. The Casino Association of New Jersey recently stated that banning smoking permanently would have a long-term effect on the industry’s finances as well as the region.
The Association went so far as to say that banning smoking would put Atlantic City at a competitive disadvantage. There are nearby casinos in other states that still allow the option. Hallett disagrees and says that other casinos are banning smoking as well due to the pandemic so this will not be an issue.
Should It Be A Debate?
When it comes to smoking in casinos, should it even be a debate at this point? Hasn’t the world changed enough over the years to show that businesses such as casinos can function without smoking? Many properties across the US have made changes, offering outdoor smoking areas or specially ventilated rooms where smokers can enjoy a cigarette without affecting the employees or nonsmokers.
It seems the younger generations are more health-conscious and not interested in smoking at all. Will smoking be just another reason that young people do not visit casinos? Over the past few years, the 20 to 30 something demographic has shown little interest in casino gaming. This is partially due to the lack of entertainment they enjoy.
The younger generation is not as entertained by slots and table games. This is why casinos are starting to offer more skill-based games. Will smoking play into this as well? Will people be less likely to visit if smoking is back at the casinos once officials feel it is safe to do so?
It will be interesting to see where this debate goes. Will the legislation push forward and see smoking banned permanently?