New Partial Ban on Smoking in Casinos Rejected by Casino Workers

It’s all or nothing – this is the message Atlantic City casino dealers want to send to lobbies trying to strike a middle ground between anti-smoking and pro-smoking campaigners. The debate has raged with some intensity for a while now, with many casinos fearing that prohibiting smoking on-site on their casino gaming floors will turn away well-heeled gamblers who spend a pretty penny on their slots and table games.

Employees Should Not Choose Between Health and Paycheck

This argument has been rebuffed by the anti-smoking campaigners who have cited evidence that financial results do not suffer because smoking is prohibited indoors and on gaming floors. In fact, most casinos surveyed independently by third parties have managed to increase their revenue in spite of imposing a ban on indoor smoking all the same.

Now, though, Atlantic Jersey wishes to strike an accord that will hopefully meet both camps’ demands. The proposals insist that outdoor smoking areas can be created and that employees can simply opt out of staffing those areas. This though is not really a solution, believes Borgata dealer and leader of a group of casino workers in Atlantic City, Pete Naccarelli, who spoke to The Associated Press and said that this proposal would not in fact help protect customers and workers.

By simply moving smoking outdoor on the properties, casinos are not fulfilling their mandate to protect consumer and staff health, Naccarelli argues. It’s basically trading in one’s health for a paycheck. Besides, Naccarelli fears that many workers will feel forced to work into the smoking areas because they will need the paycheck more so than preserving their immediate health.

Presently, a bill is trying to make its way through legislature with a document seeking to impose a ban on smoking inside and outside the premises of all nine casinos. The bill has been stuck with the Democratic majority not looking to move too quickly. However, Gov. Phil Murphy has said that should lawmakers send it to his office, he will sign it off immediately.

Financial Worries Make Casino Cautious about Ban

Smoking at casinos in New Jersey is a loophole regulation whereby patrons are allowed to smoke on the premises of casinos, which are public places. Other public places are prohibited from allowing their patrons to smoke on their promises. Casino workers are hoping to settle this once and for all.

The middle-ground proposal is not very likely to be accepted by the anti-smoking campaigners though who want all or nothing. Workers have even appealed to US vice president Kamala Harris to support their cause and advocate for an end to smoking. Casinos, though, remain skeptical that the pandemic and the added stress of turning away smokers could precipitate new economic doldrums. Given the latest results from New Jersey, these fears look overblown.  

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