New Jersey

New Jersey’s Atlantic City casinos could soon see smoking banned

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Smoking could soon be totally banned from Atlantic City’s casinos as New Jersey’s lawmakers meet on February 13th to discuss the proposal. 

New Jersey has outlawed indoor smoking since 2006, but a specific law allows smoking in up to 25% of a casino floor. 

The issue remains contentious, with many patrons arguing gambling and smoking ‘goes hand in hand’, but workers such as card dealers say it’s simply not fair that they have to work in such an environment in 2023. 

“This hearing means that Atlantic City casino workers are one step closer to not having to choose between their health and a paycheck,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “It’s a historic moment in the fight to protect the health of thousands of New Jersey workers. Dealers bear the brunt of the dangerous secondhand smoke more harshly than anyone else working in casinos, and their voices must carry the most weight.”

Vitale said the hearing is intended to foster “a thorough discussion with the committee on how this bill will affect casino employees, customers and the gaming industry.”

Is New Jersey the only place you can smoke in casinos?

There remains a contention with regards to the revenue impact of banning smoking in casinos. C3 Gaming published a report examining the ‘Evaluation of Post-Pandemic Non-Smoking Trends in US Casinos.’ 

When looking at tribal gaming in particular, many Indian tribes established protocols above and beyond the government mandate. One of such measures was the banning of indoor smoking. Covid-19 was spread through airborne particles, and thus a natural ban on smoking was inevitable. Since rules were relaxed, over 160 Indian casinos have left the smoking ban in place. In Fiscal Year 2020, there were just over 520 Indian casinos in operation. 

Market research conducted showed over 25% of casino visitors sought non-smoking venues, with only 4% seeking smoking venues. This report, together with case studies from elsewhere in the United States of America have moved to dispel the theory that NJ sports Gross Gaming Revenue drops if smoking inside is not permitted. 

The states of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia are pushing similar legislation to ban smoking in casinos. Reports suggest many casino workers have been pushing for years for a total ban on casino smoking, arguing the secondhand smoke is making them ill and is extremely detrimental to their overall health.

New Jersey is the 11th most populous state in America and is one of the most liberal states with regards to legalized gambling. It’s considered a gambling hotspot, although with New York recently regulating sports betting the cross-border factor has significantly reduced.

The three states with highest population in the United States of America are California, Texas and Florida. All three states do not yet have legalized sports books or online casino. Given the defeat of Prop 26 and 27 in CA, it’s unlikely California online sports betting will appear until 2024 at the earliest. 

Similarly, although there are rumblings of TX online sports betting or Texas online gaming, nothing has been pushed through the legislature in 2023. This is the same as Florida, where online sports betting in Florida has seen little traction or push given the political landscape and potential friction between Indian gaming and commercial operators.