June 6, 2023 3 min read


Rhode Island Senate President Outrages Casino Anti-Smoking Groups

Banning smoking on casino floors has been a hot-button topic that has frayed tampers and prompted vitriol on both sides, with those opposing and supporting the measure exchanging vicious barbs

Now, the comments of Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio have caused another stir in the debate with the man lambasting those who have been calling for restricting smoking on gaming floors.

Blasting Casino Workers for Accepting the Jobs in the First Place

Ruggerio outright criticized casino workers for demanding a stop to smoking, using rather strong language to describe their demands. His remarks came as part of the Rhode Island Report, a weekly podcast hosted by PBS and The Boston Globe.

The debate got quite heated as the topic of indoor smoking came up during the podcast. Essentially, there is a loophole in the state’s laws that exempts casinos from the Public Health and Workplace Safety Act and allows casinos to host smokers on gaming floors.

This has to end, insist those opposing the exemption. However, Ruggerio chose to coach his own words much more firmly saying that those people should just look for other jobs instead. “Now, all of a sudden, there’s a small group who feels that it’s not good for their health,” the lawmaker vituperated on air.

Of course, Ruggerio is misinformed on at least two of the things he said – for starters, the link between ill health and smoking, as well as second-hand smoking, has been very well-established. Ruggerio’s own personal objection to those who call for smoke-free areas does not really change scientific evidence founded in hard facts and not flippancy.

Then again, there is the matter of how many people are actually fed up with smokers. Casino workers are on the front lines, but other guests have been complaining, too. A recent survey ranking the worst hotel services in the United States, for example, cited cigar odor as one of the off-putting reasons why they have given certain properties low reviews.

Ruggerio is supposed to offer balanced opinions as well, and as a lawmaker, he should advocate for people’s well-being. Another argument that a lack of smokers undermines the financial feasibility of casino projects has also been busted by hard data that indicates that companies show no slowdown in their operating results.

No, Ventilation Systems Does Not Protect Against Dangerous Particles

Rhode Island’s Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects chapter, CEASE, has responded to Ruggerio’s comments saying that they were disrespectful, incendiary, and badly informed. “For the Senate President to blame casino workers for “agreeing” to this job is a slap in the face to the hundreds of workers who are the backbone of the casino industry,” an official message stated.

Those supporting Ruggerio’s scurrilous claims have often cited the advancements made in ventilation systems during the pandemic that effectively “negate” the impact of second-hand smoking. This too sounds great, only the claims are not really sustainable.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers actually reached out with an official position to Rhode Island’s lawmakers informing them that such claims were not true and that ventilation systems do not actually remove harmful and toxic particles and certainly not to a level where they would be innocuous to the thousands of people working in Rhode Island’s casinos and experiencing second-hand smoking.


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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