As we approach October, an intriguing session at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas is generating buzz. For the first time, this year’s expo will dedicate a panel to the crucial topic of eliminating smoking from casinos. The implications are significant, considering the long-standing debate surrounding smoking’s presence in such establishments.
The need for smoke-free casinos
The panel features Eric Haulser, the CEO of Parx Casino. He’s a prominent Pennsylvania-based casino that has embraced a smoke-free environment since its post-COVID reopening. Parx Casino’s experience challenges the notion that eliminating smoking adversely impacts a casino’s profitability.
It’s about time that the gaming industry pays attention to these insights. In a world where the act of puffing toxic smoke into shared air spaces seems out of place, the use of smoking within casinos in 2023 remains a hot topic.
Relation to the pandemic
The aftermath of the pandemic has heightened focus on public health safety regulations. This includes exposure to secondhand smoke. ANR has long advocated for addressing the costs associated with maintaining smoking within casinos. Evidence suggests that smoke-free environments are preferred by patrons. This shift could attract more players to casinos.
However, the gambling industry remains a notable player among privately owned public spaces in the United States. People who oppose smoking restrictions argue that separating smoking and gambling infringes upon personal liberties.
Allowing individuals to use e-cigarettes in odor-free settings is within the area of personal choice. However, permitting public smoking transcends personal freedom, as it infringes on the rights of others. Exposing strangers to hazardous fumes is a violation of their personal space and well-being.
Casinos as the epicenter of anti-smoking advocacy
History has shown that any initial impact on profitability in casinos is temporary. While brief dips in earnings might occur with the implementation of bans, people quickly adjust to the change. The prevalence of smoking among gamblers aligns with the national average, although casinos might create the illusion of increased smoking due to their distinct setting.
Anticipating change before legal action
The casino industry’s proactive approach to funding problem gambling research aims to avoid class-action lawsuits similar to those faced by industries like tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and firearms. This strategy seeks to mitigate the risk associated with offering potentially addictive and harmful products.
However, the same sense of vulnerability does not seem to extend to cases involving casino employees harmed by years of secondhand smoke. The emergence of groups like Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) hints at the potential for legal action. This organization, now spreading across multiple states, lobbies casino owners and legislators to address this issue. This makes it possible that lawsuits may ensue.
Casinos’ association with tobacco tarnishes their image, despite both being deemed “vices”. While casino owners distance themselves from other vices like strip clubs and pot dispensaries, they remain linked to smoking. Smoke-free casinos have thrived in various states. And this too, regardless of political orientation, proves that the elimination of smoking can be successful.