September 18, 2023 4 min read


Smoking Loopholes in Pennsylvania’s Casinos May Come to an End

Pennyslvanya’s land casinos may be forced to completely ban smoking if Rep. Dan Frankel’s new proposed law would pass

After it gave the green light to the Clean Indoor Air Act 15 years ago, in 2008, Pennsylvania officially imposed a ban on indoor cigarette smoking in most workplaces and public spaces in the state. 

The law that was signed by Gov. Ed Rendell provided a series of exceptions for gambling venues on certain sections of their gaming floors, private clubs, bars, cigar lounges, and other establishments where alcohol accounts for the bulk of the venues’ revenue

Ever since, a series of attempts to introduce legislation that would close these loopholes have been underway. The latest proposal in this direction belongs to Rep. Dan Frankel who issued House Bill 1657 directed to the House Health Committee.

The bill would amend the Clean Indoor Air Act by repealing those provisions that currently enable casinos to allow smoking indoors. Frankel’s bill is directed to the House Health Committee. The latter will reunite on September 20 and take the proposal into consideration.

Second Anti-Smoking Proposal in a Row for Frankel

This is the second consecutive year that the Democrat representing Allegheny County has introduced legislation that would allow casinos and their workers to breathe freely.

Just last March, the same Keystone State Rep. together with Sen. Jay Costa tried to end smoking in public places. Their proposed legislation would have included casinos and private clubs. 

However, once again, the presumed sharp drop in revenue that their proposed law could have potentially caused was, again, one of the reasons why the ban never materialized. This argument has been fought with solid research. 

For example, according to a C3 Gaming study that examined the period of the pandemic, casinos when cigar smoking was not allowed did not record any revenue decrease, compared to casinos where smoking was still allowed under the terms of the Clean Indoor Air Act. 

The Lingering Perils of Secondhand Smoking 

Similar to his predecessors who wanted to shoot their shot and see a complete ban on smoking in casinos come to life, Frankel also wants casino employees to stop being forced to work in toxic environments with lingering secondhand smoking putting their health in danger. 

While the 18 land casinos in the Keystone State can only allocate 50% of gaming floors to smokers, according to health experts, the dangers represented by secondhand smoke that lingers in nonsmoking areas should completely ban smoking on all floors. 

As explained by Office on Smoking & Health Policy’s team lead, Michael Tynan, in spite of the “robust evidence” regarding the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, tens of thousands of casino employees along with tens of millions of gambling tourists continue to be exposed to elevated levels of secondhand smoke in casinos on the Strip on a yearly basis. 

Tynan further explained that the unique solution to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke is to completely ban smoking in all indoor areas.

Pennsylvania’s Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) chapter believes the newly proposed bill could possibly save lives. 

After thanking Rep. Frankel for introducing the legislation, Jen Rubolino, a Rivers Casino table games dealer who is also the co-lead of CEASE Pennsylvania, spoke about the large number of workers who are now dealing with the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke exposure, “including cancer, asthma, and heart disease.”

At the moment, only Bensalem’s Parx Casino and Rivers Casino Philadelphia have completely forbidden smoking on the premises, with the rest of the casinos seeming intent to hold on to the advantage given by the loophole.

According to Rep. Frankel, it is not fair for employees and patrons who do not smoke to be subject to secondhand smoke, or for casino staff members to have to make a choice between losing their jobs and seeing their health deteriorate.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

1 Comment

  • Harry Mcclay
    September 18, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    Please include bars and clubs we need to be protected
    We play in leagues that still allow smoking in some VFW have them play on same level and ever will benefit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *