February 15, 2024 3 min read


Anti-smoking Debate in Atlantic City Intensifies with New Bill

The proposal introduced by Sen. John Burzichelli calls to maintain the status quo, opponents of smoking say

The debate about smoking on the casino floor in Atlantic City’s casinos has been ongoing for nearly two decades. Currently, a loophole in New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act allows casinos to permit indoor smoking within an area of up to 25% of their gaming floors. In contrast, the Act prohibits smoking within public areas in the state with that sole exception.

While the debate about smoking is ongoing, a new bill calls to keep the current restriction for smoking to occur within 25% of the casino gaming floors, adding a few conditions. The bill, S2651, which non-smoking activists call maintaining the status quo, is supported by Sen. John Burzichelli and was introduced in the Senate earlier this week. The proposal was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee for further review and consideration.

While this is a new bill, in its majority, it keeps the current rules about indoor smoking for casinos in Atlantic City. As noted, the bill would keep the existing restriction that limits the casinos from indoor smoking within up to 25% of their gaming floors.

However, under S2651, smoking would be permitted within specially designated smoking areas that offer slots and are located more than 15 feet away from table games with dealers. Additionally, the proposal would enable casinos to permit smoking within designated smoking areas that are separated from the other areas within the casino floor. Dealers who would be working in such areas will have to confirm if they agree to be assigned to such a position.

Anti-smoking Group Criticizes the Newly Proposed Bill

Burzichelli backed his proposal by explaining that it would prevent casinos from closing. He was quoted on the matter by the Associated Press, explaining: “It’s about what we can do to keep casinos open, and how do we get it right.” Additionally, Burzichelli warned: “Losing one casino means thousands of jobs lost.”

The proposal immediately captured the attention of the anti-smoking group, Casino Employees Against Smoking Harmful Effects (CEASE). The group issued a statement claiming Burzichelli’s proposal was “copied and pasted.” In their statement, CEASE explained: “This bill would retain the same level of smoking as is currently permitted and will not decrease in any way the amount of exposure workers have to secondhand smoke.”

The anti-smoking group reiterated that the only proposal that may receive sufficient support is a rival bill that prohibits indoor smoking completely. Previously, Gov. Phil Murphy hinted at his intention to sign such a proposal, should it get enough traction and support. Speaking about the Governor’s support, CEASE predicted that Burzichelli’s bill is unlikely to progress.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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