The Case for Smoke-Free Casinos

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The health risks are great to allow smoking on casino floors, but the solutions are relatively simple.

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No smoking in the casino

Why have Brian Christopher and his team invested so much time advocating for smoke-free casinos? It’s pretty simple. Despite smokers being the minority of the population, everyone in a smoking space, including non-smokers, are forced to breathe in the pollutants. And because there is no harmless level of second-hand smoke, even exposure to small amounts of pollutants in the air add up over time.

Some players point to the availability of smoke free areas of the casino as a reasonable solution to support both sides. However, the science does not back this up as a safe solution. 

Research released in 2023 from the Centers for Disease Control and Commission tested the air at Park MGM, which went fully smokefree upon reopening after COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, vs. casinos that allow smoking in portions of the casino vs. non-smoking in other portions. Fine particulates were more than 5x higher in casinos that allowed smoking, even in their non-smoking sections, vs. the baseline air quality at Park MGM, which was fully smoke free.

Those particulates are being breathed in by guests, whether they’re smoking or not, as well as employees. And the long-term impact is best illustrated by those employees who, despite not being smokers themselves, have developed ailments that are hallmarks of what smokers contend with after a lifetime of smoking.

Some make the argument that people should just gamble, or work, elsewhere. But with the percentage of the population continuing to shrink, it seems increasingly unreasonable for people, whether workers or gamblers, to be exposed to second-hand smoke, particularly when other businesses saw smoking banned previously, such as bars and restaurants. Despite claims of economic disaster if these changes were implemented, people adapted to the requirement to smoke outdoors.

In states where smoking is banned indoors at casinos, adaptation has happened as well. Just look at Maryland’s casinos, where the advent of outdoor gambling patios were implemented to allow players to play games and smoke while outdoors, keeping the air clean for everyone indoors.

There are also financial benefits for casinos that ban smoking on the casino floor. A report showed that casinos saw lower HVAC maintenance costs, fewer slot machine repairs, and longer lifespans for table felts and upholstery. Non-smoking floors also helped with recruiting and retaining employees.

This is why we’ve pledged to only promote smoke free casinos. The health risks are great to allow smoking on casino floors, but the solutions are relatively simple:

  • You shouldn’t have to walk through smoking areas to get into non-smoking areas.
  • Non-smoking areas shouldn’t share ventilation or air with smoking areas.
  • In the absence of a fully separated, separately ventilated space, smoking areas should be moved outdoors to ensure non-smoking spaces are truly the clear air they’re supposed to be.

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