US: More Than 120 Casinos Are Now Smoke-free, Could This Be the New Normal?

More than 120 out of 839 tribal and commercial casino operators have introduced a smoking ban. While some operators plan to reinstate smoking as soon as the mandatory requirement for wearing a mask is lifted, we wonder if smoke-free casino floors is a temporary event or it may result in significant changes in the near future.

More Us Casinos Operate Smoke-free in the Post-COVID-19 Environment

More than 120 casino operators who resumed operations in the post-COVID-19 environment introduced smoking bans. In total there are 989 commercial and tribal casinos across the United States. Data from the American Gaming Association shows that so far, 839 tribal and commercial casinos have reopened, while some 150 remain closed. This shows that an excessive of 14% of all casinos who resumed operations are now smoke-free. With that in mind, the operators who now offer smoke-free facilities used to allow smoking before the spread of COVID-19.

How well the smoking ban within gaming facilities is accepted by the visitors will determine if more operators will introduce this measure in the near future. Keeping in mind that in most states, face masks are mandatory when indoors, smoke-free casino floors was one of the requirements that many operators had to accept. And while some operators find this as an opportunity to index how lack of smoking would influence their businesses, other operators plan to reinstate smoking as soon as masks are not mandatory when indoors. With that being said, operators also want to look after their visitors by establishing designated areas for smoking which also feature social distancing.

The American Non-Smokers’ Rights Foundation recently shared a full list of all commercial and tribal casinos venues which are smoke free. Looking at that data, we have found that operators from 25 states in the US have implemented a smoking ban. Back in mid-March, all casinos along with other entertainment venues were ordered to close around the US. After a few months of suspended operations many of the operators returning to business introduced a smoke ban at their facilities.

Not All States Share the Same Rules When It Comes to Smoking in Casinos

Last month, Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak announced that all Nevadans and guests must mandatory wear a mask in public places. It was then later clarified, that casino visitors are allowed to lift their masks when they drink or smoke. Looking at Nevada, earlier this week, the Governor ordered the shutdown of bars in seven counties. This yet another effort of the state to reduce the increasing amount of positive-COVID-19 cases.

Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, Wind River Casino in Bethlehem chose to introduce a smoking ban for its facility before reopening doors for visitors. With that in mind, remaining casino operators were pushed into introducing a smoking ban by the Gaming Control Board. Doug Harbach, spokesman for the GCB in Pennsylvania noted that the face masks were mandatory for everyone and smokers were not an exception. Consequently, casinos in Pennsylvania were allowed to offer smoking at an external, specially designated area that also follows social distancing.

Smoking was also prohibited in Michigan, by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Spokeswoman for the regulator, Mary Kay Bean said: “Under our reopening guidelines, smoking is prohibited on the casino floor, but permitted in an alternative area (referring to an extenral designated smoke areas).” She further noted: “The guidelines also require all patrons to wear masks covering nose and mouth and to do so continuously while in the casino unless eating or drinking.” The spokeswoman outlined that the smoking ban was included because the visitors needed to remove their masks in order to smoke.

2 Comments

  • Michael J McFadden
    July 12, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Interesting. One of the FEW things that we know about COVID-19 is that smoking for some reason seems to fairly strongly protect AGAINST getting the disease. If you look at the table at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6913e2.htm#T1_down you will see an analysis of over 7,000 over-19-year-old COVID patients where full health data for “underlying conditions” had been gathered, including smoking statuses. US population stats for current smoking for such a group would be about 15%. Thus we’d expect that if smoking had NO effect, we’d have seen slightly over 1,000 smokers among the sick patients.

    Instead, the table shows just 96.

    Roughly 900 smokers who would, statistically, have gotten COVID if they had not smoked, were saved from it according to those figures.

    So what do the casinos do? They get frightened by the screams and whistles of the very well-funded (hundreds of millions of dollars EVERY YEAR just from the MSA “smokers’ tax”) antismoking smoking movement, and proceed TO BAN SMOKING!

    Almost too crazy to be true… but that’s what we’re seeing.

    Craziness.

    – MJM, so, who wants to lay a bet on what crazier thing the casinos will try next?

  • Stephen Hinkle
    August 17, 2020 at 7:26 am

    I think casinos going smoke-free will be the wave of the future, and may be the new normal. I think it is good thing for patrons, workers, and gamblers in general alike. Smoking is a health hazard and causes lung cancer, heart disease, empysema, and many other issues, in both people who smoke and those who breathe secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Today, the normal is smoke-free indoor spaces as many non-gambling establishments already ban smoking in many parts of the world including workplaces, restrurants, bars, hospitals, schools, colleges, and others. Many others choose to go smoke-free even when not mandated. Many cities and states in the USA are smoke-free already. If you look, the rest of the world has been catching on with bans in parts of Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and other places. The smoking rate in the USA has dropped to 13.7% according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    I think Casinos should follow this trend and go smoke free nationwide. The days in which the average gambler is a smoker are over. The casinos belief that the majority of gamblers are smokers may have been true in the past, but is no longer the case today. A University of Nevada Reno study found that the majority of gamblers are now non-smokers.

    Casinos need to go 100% smoke-free today. I think it is beyond time to ban smoking in casinos.

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