Non Smoking Casinos in the US: Which Casinos Ban Smoking

Non Smoking Casinos in the US: Which Casinos Ban Smoking

Few gaming industry debates are as heated as the one over smoking in casinos.

While the debate rages, an anti-smoking group has compiled a list of gaming sites where smoking is banned.

The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation list includes more than 1,000 smoke-free U.S. gaming properties. 

 

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Which Casinos Have a Smoking Ban?

The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation's list of gaming properties where smoking is prohibited has grown to 1,034 locations.

The list includes tribal casinos, commercial resorts, California card rooms and sites such as the slots area at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

In many states, multiple properties prohibit smoking. Below is a sample of gaming sites on the nonsmoking list. Here is the complete list

  • Empire City Casino (New York)
  • Resorts World Casino (New York)
  • Rivers Casino (Pennsylvania)
  • Jack Casino (Ohio)
  • Greektown Casino Hotel (Michigan)
  • Joe’s Bar on Weed Street (Illinois)
  • Wind Creek (Montgomery, Alabama)
  • Hialeah Park Casino and Racetrack (Florida)
  • Island View Casino Resort (Mississippi)
  • Harrah’s New Orleans (Louisiana)
  • Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort (Arkansas)
  • Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort (Arizona)
  • Park MGM (Nevada)
  • Big Daddy’s Sports Lounge (Arizona)
  • Ocean’s Eleven Casino (California)

The nation’s most-populous state, California, with 40 million residents, is on the list, as is Wyoming, the least-populated state. Wyoming is home to about 585,000 people.

California has 108 gaming properties where smokers can’t light up. Wyoming has three.

The per capita nonsmoking leader is Montana. It has a population of only 1.06 million but is home to a nation-leading 198 smoke-free gaming sites.

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Casino Smoking Loophole: Respiratory Risk Factors vs. Revenue Declines

On one side of the casino smoking debate are gaming executives who contend smoking bans lead to a decline in revenue and employee layoffs.

“My roulette and blackjack and slot machine in smoking sections make 50% more money than my nonsmoking games,” Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City, told CNBC.  

On the other side are casino workers and some customers concerned about the health hazards associated with secondhand smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to second-hand smoke, even for a short time, can be harmful to children and adults.

Tobacco smoke has 7,000 chemicals, "including hundreds of chemicals that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer," the CDC states on its website.

Tammy Brady, a New Jersey casino employee undergoing breast cancer treatment, told the business news network customers blow smoke into her face.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “You have to sit there and just take it."

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Casinos Claim Lost Revenue With Ban

In November 2021, a report from the Spectrum Gaming Group examined the economic impact of potential smoking bans at Atlantic City casinos. The report was prepared for the Casino Association of New Jersey.

According to the report, smokefree casinos could cause gross gaming revenue to decline by 5% to 11.9%.

Lost revenue could lead to “a net loss of between 1,021 and 2,512 jobs at the casino properties,” the report states. According to the association, about 22,000 part-time and full-time employees work in Atlantic City casinos.

For organizations that receive gaming tax revenue, a decline means services could be cut back or eliminated.

In May, the New Jersey Association of Area Agencies on Aging sent a letter to legislators saying a smoking ban would have a “devastating impact” on tax-supported programs for older and disabled residents. These programs include pharmaceutical and transportation assistance.

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The Situation with Non Smoking Casinos in Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, Park MGM has implemented a smokefree policy. Once named the Monte Carlo, the resort is at one of the busiest locations on the Las Vegas Strip, near T-Mobile Arena, home of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. 

The smoking ban was put in place in 2020 based on continued requests from guests, said MGM Resorts executive Anton Nikodemus. Smoking also is banned at NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury “hotel-within-a-hotel” at Park MGM.

Other major Las Vegas casinos have not followed Park MGM and NoMad in banning smoking. ParkMGM is the only smokefree casino on the Strip.

Most Nevada gaming properties allow smoking, though it is banned in some areas where slot machines are located, such as the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

The reason many casinos allow smoking might be that gaming revenue tended to fall off in the pre-pandemic era if gamblers couldn’t light up.

“It is an irrefutable fact that a slot machine located in a smoking area of a casino makes more money than a slot machine in a nonsmoking area,” according to G3 Gaming, a Las Vegas-based casino consultant consortium. 

The casino profit motive has done little to console those who oppose smoking.

The Facebook group “Casino Employees Against Smoking Efforts” has comments from several people worried about the health risks of secondhand smoke and the possible spread of COVID-19.

“They exhale their germs with every exhale,” said Facebook user Elizabeth Mason Vivona. “It’s disgusting.”

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Plea to Protect Casino Workers Health

As health advocates urge lawmakers to take action, efforts are underway in some states to prohibit smoking in even more casinos. 

In New Jersey, legislation is under consideration to ban smoking in Atlantic City resorts. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has said he would sign a bill by state lawmakers outlawing smoking at gaming properties. 

Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Jersey City, is among New Jersey senators who have signed on as sponsors of anti-smoking legislation.

Casinos in other states are banning smoking on their own, without a government mandate.

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Closing Casino Smoking Loophole: Changing Attitudes About Smoking Post Covid 19

Randy Hayden, a Louisiana-based consultant with the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, told Gambling.com the trend in gaming is moving toward smokefree facilities, “both by law and by choice."

Hayden said casino workers have a right to a "smokefree casino" environment, adding that health and safety should come first.

“The momentum is clearly on the side of clean, healthy smoke-free air for all casino workers, vendors and guests,” he said.

The G3 Gaming report, released in June, notes that the pandemic has changed patrons' expectations upon entering a casino. These include fewer housekeeping visits and, at some hotel casinos, the elimination of buffets. Smoking indoors is included in this.

“The pandemic has had a profound effect on consumer attitudes and behaviors across a wide range of industries, including casinos and casino-hotels, and customers have come to accept certain changes once thought unthinkable,” the report states. The authors said the report was compiled without funding from outside sources.  

At tribal casinos, smoke-free environments became accepted during the pandemic. “Customers readily understood that mask mandates were incompatible with smoking and accepted the prohibition,” the report states.

Even after mask mandates were lifted, smoking prohibitions remained in place at those properties.

“Having successfully pushed smoking out of their buildings at no economic cost, tribal casino operators have resisted the temptation to re-introduce smoking in their properties,” the report states. 

Revenue figures from several gaming jurisdictions indicate that banning smoking “no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue,” according to the report.

“In fact, nonsmoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking,” the report reads.

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Finding a Middle Ground: Banning Smoking Indoors, Creating Outdoor Smoking Areas

One idea to close the casino smoking loophole is to find middle ground. 

In Louisiana, for instance, some riverboat casinos provide alternatives for customers by creating designated outdoor areas for smoking. At these sites, indoor smoking is allowed is certain spaces, such as in a smoking lounge or other smoking environments.

In downtown Las Vegas, the Plaza hotel-casino is creating a nonsmoking slot machine area for patrons who want to gamble but don't want to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

FAQ


Smoke free casinos exist in states with legal gaming, from New York to California. This includes Nevada, which has a smoke free casino, Park MGM, on the Las Vegas Strip. Not all sites on the non-smoking list are "casinos" in the traditional sense of the word. Any facility with legal gaming, including the slot machine area at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, are considered smokefree casinos for inclusion on the nonsmoking list.

Some smaller gaming sites in Las Vegas are smoke free. On the Las Vegas Strip, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury “hotel-within-a-hotel” at Park MGM, are smoke free. In downtown Las Vegas, the Plaza hotel-casino is building a non-smoking slot machine area. Across the state, most Nevada casinos allow patrons to light up.

Some casinos allow smoking, but more than 1,000 casinos across the county are smoke free. For instance, the riverboat casinos in Shreveport, Louisiana, are smoke free, but the casinos and racetrack across the Red River in Bossier City do not ban smoking. Many tribal casinos across the U.S. are smoke free.

Several gaming sites in Arizona, including off-track betting facilities and tribal casinos, are smoke free.

The complete list of smoke-free casinos, compiled by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, is included, with a link, in the body of the story.

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