The debate on whether to ban smoking on casino floors has been one that has pitted workers, industry bodies, and the businesses themselves against each other. For the longest time, the presumption has been that should such a ban occur, it would immediately lead to a sharp downturn in revenue.
Mounting evidence suggests otherwise so that both the casinos and their workers can breathe freely. There is nothing to suggest that the pots-COVID-19 world will be one where smokers would be the biggest smokers. In fact, the pandemic has changed most gamblers’ habits, according to a new report released by C3 Gaming, an industry research group operating out of Las Vegas.
Smoke Signals Bode Well for Casinos
The report targeted some of the biggest states which have been tinkering with the idea or facing local opposition to prohibiting smoking on casino floors and included New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. C3 Gaming used its own funding to conduct the report in order to guarantee its validity. Examining the period of the pandemic, C3 Gaming discovered that casinos that prohibited smoking on their floors did not see a drop in revenue, compared to those that did not.
C3 Gaming argued that casino resorts have seen their customers acclimatize well to a number of changes, including lack of room service, the removal of daily housekeeping, and the elimination of open buffets, all in a bid to reduce the chances of transmission. Prohibiting smoking indoors and moving it to designated areas may also catch on now.
Besides, there is nothing to suggest that the financial results of a casino would start tumbling down, C3 Gaming says, which is the most important argument to make. This is precisely what New Jersey’s casinos fear and this is exactly why they are facing a lot of pushback from casino workers. But the report is optimistic about consumers’ ability to adapt:
The pandemic altered consumer expectations and consumer behavior in virtually every industry, including retail, entertainment, lodging, dining, and casino gaming. One of those changes (is) in attitudes towards smoking in casinos.C3 Gaming
C3 Gaming argues that the available data from several jurisdictions enables the company to clearly conclude that banning smoking would not lead to a revenue decrease. Quite the opposite, as non-smoking properties tend to do better financially than those that continue to allow smokers in, holding on to pre-pandemic habits.
One reason for balancing out the financial side could be the fact that maintenance costs have been reduced. This alone has allowed 157 tribes to do away with smoking in the past couple of years.
Gamblers Unlikely to Pursue or Find New Casinos
Some executives have been very particular about their fears. Ban smoking and then gamblers would leave Atlantic City many argued. This could lead to a loss of revenue and a blow to recovery. However, C3 Gaming argues that this is very unlikely to happen for the simple reason that Connecticut and New York are also working on the same bans, and the Rivers Casino Philadelphia has already opted out of indoor smoking, with Pennsylvania soon to follow suit, it seems.
Finding a solution is important though, especially since union workers in New Jersey are willing to take things to a city-wide strike and picket casino locations in a sign of protest. They are right to do so as the evidence already suggests that no amount of indoor smoking is actually safe and that advanced air ventilation systems cannot really suck out the smoke before it enters human lungs.
Casinos though do not have to worry anymore as they have the scientific evidence proving that all is going to be well if they snuff out smoking on their gambling floors.