Atlantic City’s top casinos have been accused by an anti-smoking group of persuading employees not to speak to the media about the proposed ban on indoor casino smoking, which is supported by the residents. Last week, POLITICO obtained a copy of a media policy in which Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City states that employees need to be authorized before speaking to the media.
Only Approved Team Members Can Represent the Company, According to the Report
The copy of the media policy by Hard Rock Casino states that only authorized personnel can represent the company in front of the media.
It goes on to explain which channels are in question whenever the term “media” is mentioned. These channels include interviews on TV, comments in magazines and newspapers, and radio call-ins.
Employees that have not been explicitly approved by the casino to talk to the media must get prior authorization before doing so. In recent months, numerous casino workers in Atlantic City have been pretty vocal about the proposed smoking ban and stated that secondhand exposure is a serious threat to their health.
As a way to battle the massive PR campaign by these workers, numerous private employers have adopted a similar approach as Hard Rock Casino. Around 2,500 casino workers have come together to support the ban on casino smoking and Gov. Phil Murphy stated that he also supports the idea of not allowing people to smoke inside casinos.
The Casino Industry Opposes the Proposed Ban
This is not the first time a ban on indoor smoking at casinos has been proposed in Atlantic City. In 2008, smoking was actually banned, but that resulted in a 20% drop in casino revenue. The casino industry opposes it now as it claims that the scenario won’t be any different this time.
Joe Lupo, Hard Rock Atlantic City’s president, stated that roulette and blackjack games in smoking areas make generate 50% more money than in non-smoking areas. He also said that many Hard Rock employees do not support the idea of introducing a ban as it may affect their jobs.
A Spectrum Gaming Group study showed that by banning smoking at casinos in Atlantic City, as many as 2,500 jobs could be lost. Additionally, the smoking ban could result in a 20% to 25% drop in revenue. The study went on to say that around 21% of the gamblers in Atlantic City are smokers and they produce greater profits than non-smokers.
Casino workers do not care about profits, though. Tammy Brady, a Borgata dealer supervisor, stated that she has been working in the casino industry for the past 37 years and noted that the secondhand exposure to smoke is “the worst part” of her job. Brady is currently on medical leave as she is battling breast cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited a study that states that 50% of casino employees had increased air pollution levels which could cause cardiovascular diseases after just 2 hours of being exposed.