Most of New Jersey’s residents have shown their support for a total ban on indoor smoking in Atlantic City’s nine casinos. According to a poll completed by Stockon University’s Polling Institute part of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, more than 60% of the Garden State’s residents want to see the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act’s casino exemptions vanish once and for all. The poll comes in the context of the heated discussion triggered by the bill that would permanently ban indoor cigar smoking inside city casinos.
Eleven Casinos Going Smokeless?
Currently, Borgata Poker Room, Wild Wild West Casino, Caesars Atlantic City Casino, Hard Rock Casino, and seven other Atlantic City casinos are exempted from the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006. The exemption allows them to use up to 25% of their indoor gaming space for smokers. Simulcast wagering venues also fall under the same exemption rule.
According to poll results, 62% of the 640 participants expressed their desire to see a smoking ban imposed on casinos, while over 31% believed the current rules should be carried on. The rest of the participants remained neutral. Pollsters, however, explained that the results depended on the location of the persons being interviewed. Accordingly, poll participants who lived far away from Atlantic City in the northern part of New Jersey supported the ban. On the other hand, participants from the southern part of the state were less excited to see casinos go smokeless, with only 59% of residents there showing their support for the ban. Plus, the fact that there are more people engaged in jobs in the casino industry in the south could also explain the results. Casinos in the city have already laid off a large number of workers since 2018 when employment reached over 30,000 part-time and full-time workers. In March 2022, the nine Atlantic City casino resorts only gathered close to 22,000 workers.
Plus, according to a Casino Association of New Jersey study, a potential smoking ban would lead to a drop of up to 25% in revenue in the first year alone. The results were also supported by Union Gaming’s gaming analyst John DeCree.
Air Ventilation Not Enough?
While land casinos in the city own and use state-of-the-art air ventilation systems used to periodically swap contaminated air with fresh and purified air, this is not enough according to health experts. These experts claim casino employees are still forced to work in a harmful work environment because of the nonstop indoor smoking that occurs inside. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentions the risks associated with secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke, including stroke, coronary heart disease, or lung cancer.
Given the fact that smokers apparently spend more on bets and amenities, thus considerably boosting casinos’ revenues, it remains to be seen if industry stakeholders’ objections regarding the ban will come out with flying colors in Atlantic City.
The poll was conducted by phone between April 4 and April 13 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.8%.