May 23, 2024 3 min read

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Rhode Island Delays Decision on Casino Smoking Ban Bill

Before advancing, the proposal would have to undergo further view which may potentially threaten its progress, at least for the current legislative session

The battle against indoor smoking in casinos across the United States has been ongoing for decades. Years after the ban on smoking in public places, there are still states that permit the activity on the casino floors.

Rhode Island is one state where legislation, calling for smoke-free casinos, is slowly advancing. Yet, the proposal, which was discussed for nearly a month with unions, casino workers and lawmakers, may not gain further traction, at least for this legislative session.

This is because the bill, which called for a smoke ban at Bally’s Twin River and Tiverton, was stopped from advancing. The legislative proposal would have to undergo further study prior to progressing which means it may not make it in time for the current session.

Rep. Teresa Tanzi participated in a recent debate on the smoking ban proposal. Quoted by 10 WJAR, she spoke about the unpleasant smell of cigarettes that casino employees would have to deal with every night after work. Tanzi said: “Imagine what that’s like, night after night, having to go home with cigarette smell in your hair, having to shower before you even got into bed. Every single night, throwing your clothes in the laundry every single night because of the stench of smoking.”

The Impact of Smoking on Employees and Revenue

Bally’s properties in Lincoln and Tiverton are the only two casinos in Rhode Island that allow indoor smoking. Addressing potential fears about a decrease in gambling revenue, Tanzi referred to data from C3 gaming, a Las Vegas-based gambling industry consultant. She said that per an independent study from the company, casinos that do not permit smoking perform better than venues that allow indoor smoking.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio sent a statement on the matter, explaining: “My understanding is that Bally’s has worked with its union members to implement a number of changes related to smoking in their Rhode Island casinos, including making improvements to ventilation and limiting smoking directly near employees, such as at table games.” He said that the aforementioned smoking ban proposal is currently with the Senate Finance Committee where it is going through a review.

Earlier this month, Bally’s shareholders rejected a smoke-free policy proposal. The decision was announced during a meeting, and it affects the company’s two Rhode Island casinos.

Craig Sculo, Bally’s Twin River Lincon’s VP, confirmed that the property recently expanded its non-smoking areas. Now, there’s a designated non-smoking area within the two floors of the casino. “We’re accommodating basically two casinos under one roof, space for those who prefer to be and work in a nonsmoking environment as well as patrons and employees that can access the smoking environment as well,” explained Sculo.

Still, he spoke about the potential detrimental effect of a smoking ban. Sculo pointed to data from Louisiana where a casino smoke ban resulted in a significant decrease in revenues. Finally, he said that in Louisiana’s case, the government decided to reintroduce smoking which impacted positively the revenues of the casinos.

Journalist

Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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