Atlantic City casinos mulling smoking ban

August 12, 2022

There are few workplaces in the United States now where smoking indoors is considered to be an acceptable behavior, but one such industry is the New Jersey indoor casino sector, where patrons on the casino floors of Atlantic City are permitted to smoke while they play the various slots and table games. However, this may soon cease to be the case, if representatives of the city’s casino workers get their way.

Under existing laws, casino workers are exposed to second-hand smoke when doing their jobs, and unsurprisingly, it is leading to health issues. Currently, they have no choice but to grin and bear it, but an increasing number of lawmakers in the state are now signed on to legislation that would bring about an end to indoor smoking in all workplaces in the state.

There is one fly in the ointment, though, and it comes in the form of the state’s Casino Association, which has stated that ending smoking indoors would result in fewer people coming to their casinos, resulting in fewer jobs. As a result, it is believed that they are putting pressure on the state’s legislature not to bring the putative bills forward for a vote. Representatives of the Association say that they are happy to end indoor smoking in the state’s casinos, but that more time is needed to devise alternatives that would protect jobs.

The model that Atlantic City would usually follow would be the United States’ leading casino city, Las Vegas. However, this is where the issue becomes complicated. In Las Vegas, there is plenty of scope for outdoor gambling, with numerous areas including swimming pools offering gaming that is open to the elements. Las Vegas is in Nevada, however, which experiences hot weather almost all year round and is even experiencing drought conditions.

Atlantic City, meanwhile, is in New Jersey state, which does not have the same weather conditions, and indeed the one outdoor gambling facility is at the city’s Golden Nugget Casino. It is open for less than half of the year, because it’s simply not practical to have outdoor gaming in temperatures which, at their coolest, can get below 30 degrees.

Representatives of the casino workers’ union have been sympathetic to the arguments of the Casino Association, given that part of their remit is to protect jobs, and they have expressed a desire to work with anyone and everyone to discover some solution to the issue. One suggestion has been to implement outdoor patios such as the ones seen in New Orleans for outdoor gambling. These spaces are climate-controlled and have open walls, therefore allowing freer movement of air. Unfortunately, such a facility costs between $10-15 million to build, and not every casino in Atlantic City is in a position to spend that.

Nonetheless, with the urgency of a solution being found, it is hoped that lawmakers, union reps and casino bosses can get something in place before another year goes by with casino workers being exposed to second-hand smoke. It’s hard to believe it hasn’t already happened, in truth.

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