February 21, 2022 3 min read

More Lawmakers Join Push for Smoke-Free AC Casinos

Harmful air has no place in the work environment, whether this is an office or an Atlantic City casino. This is the case argued by a group of activists who have gained significant momentum in New Jersey and enjoy the backing of a string of lawmakers and state officials. The latest to join the anti-smoking camp is General Assembly representative Don Guardian who agrees with the workers and campaign initiators who want to see casinos clear of cigars and other smoke-producing devices.

To this effect, Guardian and his fellow lawmaker, Claire Swift, are pushing A2151 which aims to give the anti-smoke campaigners a firm legal foothold. The bill was originally introduced on February 7 by assembly members William Moen, Paul Moriarty, and Herb Conaway. The bill aims to create an environment in which all Atlantic City casino workers may feel free.

Essentially, the legislation is an attempt to take down the 2006 Smoke-Free Air Act, which prohibits public smoking in Atlantic City but exempts casinos from enforcing this rule. Now, this is about to change as public opposition is mounting and lawmakers seem to be siding with workers.

Some casinos have protested that a ban on smoking on their floors would result in financial and operational losses. Meanwhile, Atlantic City mayor Marty Small Sr. has decided to remain ambivalent on the matter and not speak either in favor or against the campaign. Meanwhile, Swift has reaffirmed her determination to see A2151 passed into law.

A big part of this is motivated by casino workers’ own desire not to work in an environment that is harmful to their health, even if that means losing clientele in the short term. Most no-smoke casinos from across the United States have actually been doing better, citing higher employee satisfaction, fewer sick leaves, and an overall better attitude towards casinos in the region.

But not everybody agrees with these findings. The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) has repeatedly spoken against such legislative efforts and argued that casinos are still recovering, posting a 4.9% drop in operational results compared to 2019, which is pre-pandemic levels.

Casino Executives Send Smoke Signals

Naturally, casino executives also spoke against the measure. CANJ president and CEO of the Hard Rock Atlantic City, Joe Lupo, argued that casinos would be at a competitive disadvantage. He has been talking a lot about Atlantic City losing people to New York of late and argued that this measure must be delayed.

This argument comes even after Atlantic City casinos enjoyed a major tax write-off which other businesses did not. However, casinos would have been badly impacted if the tax break had not been introduced, with some predicting that major closures would have otherwise occurred.

This time it’s a different matter and snuffing out the light of smokes on casino floors is not equivalent to closures or an end to the casino industry. It just means that casino floors would be fresher and healthier. Atlantic City ought to accept this as the voices that promote a smoke-free environment are many.

Journalist

Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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