Smoking on casino floors will be the controversial subject on Oct. 11 at a major gaming industry conference in Las Vegas. However, The Venetian Expo, the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) venue that will host 25,000 industry professionals, is smoke-free. Yet within the building complex, The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino‘s gaming floor allows smoking.
However, the Venetian is hardly alone. Many US retail casinos continue to allow smoking on the gaming floors, even as they ban it elsewhere. A Venetian customer service representative told Bonus yesterday that hotel guests can’t smoke in their suites.
So many US gambling industry leaders are waiting with bated breath for what they’re calling the first in-depth discussion about smoking on casino floors in US gaming establishments. This is despite Bonus research showing that the four speakers listed for the G2E session all appear to hold anti-smoking views, including slots influencer Brian Christopher.
However, the anticipation about the G2E session titled A Discussion: Smoking and Casinos is possibly happening because there’s increased attention on the subject.
Background About Smoking on Casino Floors
States that banned smoking indoors years ago often have loopholes allowing smoking on casino floors to continue.
New Jersey is one of those states. Its nine retail casinos are an economic force in Atlantic City.
That’s also where Bonus first saw protesters with the Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) in September 2022 outside of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City. Smokers watched that demonstration on the Boardwalk as gaming industry insiders gathered inside for a smoke-free East Coast Gaming Congress (ECGC). A CEASE representative was initially scheduled to speak to the ECGC audience, but that session got scratched.
Now, 25% of the Hard Rock casino floor is reserved for smokers.
Even so, CEASE continues trying to whittle down smoking on casino floors.
From Kansas to Virginia, CEASE is active. Many lawmakers are responding, too. Pennsylvania may hold a health committee hearing next month about HB2466, known as the Protecting Workers From Secondhand Smoke Act. Passing it would close the loophole in the current law allowing smoking on casino floors.
New Jersey legislators held a well-attended public hearing in March. However, the Garden State’s 17-year-old casino loophole remains.
In February, Rhode Island Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi, D-Narragansett, proposed HB7855 “to include casinos in the state’s law prohibiting smoking in workplaces.” However, that bill that would’ve only impacted Bally’s Corporation died in May in a Senate committee.
Then in June, Rhode Island legalized online casino gambling, which will launch in 2024. Bally’s (Bally’s Corporation 10,55 -0,28%) will be that state’s only online gambling operator.
The G2E Speakers Discussing Smoking on Casino Floors
The G2E session on Oct. 11 appears as though it will be cordial.
Bonus found the speakers have similar anti-smoking stances regarding gaming floors.
In alphabetical order, the G2E speakers about smoking on casino floors are:
- Christopher, “the leading casino gaming influencer”
- Andrew Klebanow, a co-founder of gaming consultancy C3 Gaming and the principal of Klebanow Consulting
- Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) and the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF), which is a nonprofit fighting for smoke-free indoor air
- Marc Oppenheimer, CMO of Greenwood Gaming, which owns and operates Parx Casino, BetPARX, and Parx Racing
Parx implemented a smoke-free policy at its casinos and gaming facilities last year.
Christopher expressed his approval:
Smokefree Casinos for the WIN! https://t.co/WKGcUb5wdm
— Brian Christopher (@BCSlots) July 21, 2023
In a July 26 announcement about the G2E session, she said:
Concerns about the serious health consequences of indoor smoking at casinos for workers and guests alike have grown dramatically in the last several years as the pandemic brought greater awareness to our health and safety in public spaces. In response, many casinos, both commercial and especially Tribal casinos, have gone smokefree – and have continued to thrive, including Park MGM in Las Vegas and Parx Casino in Pennsylvania.
In a September 2022 story published by PlayUSA, a Catena Media publication like Bonus, Klebanow said smoking on casino floors still exists because “casino operators are scared gaming revenue will drop should people walk away for a smoke break.”
He added that it raised responsible gambling concerns.
Vegas May Not Change Much
Smoking on casino floors may continue in the top US gambling destination.
In March 2023, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported smoking on casino floors probably won’t go away anytime soon.
McKenna Ross wrote:
Only a handful of casino operators have independently decided to offer patrons nonsmoking areas or casino floor over the past 30 years. But more changes have taken place in recent years with Park MGM becoming the first smoke-free casino on the Strip in 2020, and other casinos are developing smoke-free areas such as the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas.
Still, local industry members suggest there is a lack of support for a smoking ban in Nevada casinos, so locals and visitors shouldn’t expect a change anytime soon.