Smoking has become a hot topic for many casinos during the pandemic. While many feared that turning away smokers would only add to the casino industry’s ailments, it turned to have the opposite effect. As it turns out, patrons are happier when they are not drowned in smoke and can enjoy a less sickly environment.
Following this logic, the Harrah’s Cherokee casinos have decided to enforce a non-smoking policy on their casino floors and indoor facilities. The move is expected to have a positive impact on clientele but also help the tribe protect members of the staff, its communities, and visitors to its gaming facilities.
Anti-Smoking Movement on the Casino Floor
The first widespread smoking bans on casino floors began in 2020 during the pandemic, as recommended by health authorities at the time. Some of Harrah’s casinos reintroduced indoor smoking once those protocols were no longer in place, but the Tribal Council saw the benefit of making the non-smoking policy a permanent thing.
Cherokee secretary of public health and human services Vickie Bradley expressed confidence that it was the best long-term decision for everyone’s safety in and around the gaming venues:
“From a public health perspective, obviously we are very excited and happy about that vote. There’s over 16 million Americans a year who live with a smoking-related illness.”Cherokee secretary of public health and human services Vickie Bradley
Bradley cited that it made better business sense to impose a ban on smoking, citing official numbers. According to surveys and research collated by the tribe, it turns out that 85% of the American public consists of non-smokers and that 75% of gamblers would actually prefer to gamble in facilities that did not allow smoking.
Majority of People Are Not Smokers in the US
The idea that casinos are necessarily a place where smokers go is attributed to a wider cliché that associates gambling and smoking with sin. According to some, though, the ban might actually alienate smokers and force them to travel long distances to neighboring casinos just to be able to smoke and enjoy their gambling.
However, the trend of prohibiting smoking on gambling floors is not very likely to stop. In other words, smokers may choose to cross state borders, but there is no guarantee the next state will not be just as tough on smoking. On the plus side, there is no need for smokers to feel left out.
They can still grab a cigarette in designated areas, mostly outdoors. While not always the most pleasant solution, Harrah’s Cherokee casinos are confident it’s the best way to move forward:
“We receive feedback from guests who would prefer to be able to smoke while playing their favorite games, but we also hear from those who strongly prefer the smoke-free environment.”Harrah’s Cherokee statement
The tribe acknowledges that some customers may choose to stop coming, but chances are the entire industry will catch up to smoke-free casino floors sooner or later. The question is not of if but how soon. A similar proposal for casinos in New Jersey led to protests.