Atlantic City wants ban on smoking in casinos
A complete ban on smoking in all casinos in Atlantic City is on the agenda. Should this plan be implemented, experts fear not only a decline in customer numbers, but also job cuts. All of this would also mean a tax loss for the state.
Current Situation of Casinos in Atlantic City
In Atlantic City, smokers are only allowed to indulge in25 percent of the casino area. Compared to other states, this represents a much smaller area. Other states in the US give their smoking players a far larger area, 50 percent. As a result, these states already have a competitive advantage over New Jersey. Not only this makes the New Jersey Casino Association doubt that it is a right decision.
Casinos are still struggling with the decline in sales triggered by the Corona pandemic. Compared to 2019Sales fell by 5 percent and according to official reports, the number of visitors is also at a 20-year low. In addition, the casinos in Atlantic City operate with a greatly reduced workforce: compared to 2003, only 50 percent of the employees are still there. According to the New Jersey Casino Association, these numbers do not support enacting a smoking ban at this time. Especially since there is a risk that visitors will switch toone of the numerous online casinos instead.
The association fears that a complete ban on smoking in the casinos will visitors would migrate to the neighboring state of Pennsylvania and, as a result, sales would fall even further. A far greater problem is seen in the fact that thenumber of employees will decrease as a result. The association estimates that up to 2,500 employees could lose their jobs simply because of the smoking ban.
Smoking Ban Leads to Significant Drop in Revenue
An Analysis wasConducted by Spectrum Gaming Group. Such analyzes can be trusted because it is an independent research and service company. In the present case, however, there is criticism that thestudy was commissioned by the casino industry. The analysis concluded that the workforce reduction mentioned above could occur. Furthermore, a complete ban on smoking would result in a drop in sales of almost 11 percent. Such a drop would mean over $90 million in lost revenue for local casinos in the non-gaming segment. This includes, for example, the consumption of food and drinks as well as overnight stays.
The state would also lose anot a small sum in taxes. The estimate here is between 17 and 44 million US dollars. It must not be forgotten that other businesses are attached to the casinos. These include restaurants, hotels and other leisure facilities. If there was a significant drop in sales from a total smoking ban, the entire Atlantic City economy would be affected. This is pointed out by Joe Lupo, President of the Casino Association of New Jersey.
Further points of criticism raised
The casino association sees no sense in a smoking ban, not only for the reasons mentioned above. The association also points out that the casinos have been upgraded due to the corona pandemic. For example,special ventilation systems were installed to largely prevent the spread of the virus. According to the association, these ventilation systems would be sufficient to minimize the negative effects of cigarette smoke on employees and other guests. These partly new systems have already been checked by experts and found to be good in their capacity.
For this reason, all non-smoking guests and all employees enjoyhealthy air, since fresh air is fed into the casinos at regular intervals via the ventilation systems. All these are the reasons why the casino association is against a general smoking ban. At the same time, however, the association shows sufficient understanding that all casino guests and employees should be protected from health hazards.
It should also be noted that about a fifth of all casino visitors are smokers. With a total smoking ban, these customers would be lost.
Senators Propose Smoking Ban
Why is only a quarter of the total gaming space available for smokers in New Jersey casinos? This is by no means decided by the casinos themselves, rather it is alaw in force in New Jersey. According to this law, since 2006 only 25 percent of the casino space may be available to smokers. During the corona pandemic, there was a temporary smoking ban. When the corona pandemic eased somewhat in 2021, the smoking ban was lifted again.
However, a general smoking ban was taken up again this year.Several Senators submitted a bill to ban smoking in casinos forever. This was preceded by a protest by employees who were concerned about their health. They pointed out that they were under more stress in their professional field than other people. At least the associated passive smoking would no longer be acceptable during the corona virus. The New Jersey casino dealers basically have Las Vegas backing.
Las Vegas partially separates smokers and non-smokers
Some well-known casinos in Las Vegas have developed their own idea, thanks to which a general smoking ban has so far been avoided. However, this idea only protects non-smoking casino players from smokers: there areboth groups of people separate areas. However, the employees are not protected if they are deployed in a smoking area. For this reason, calls from anti-smoking associations can be heard again and again in Las Vegas.
These have not been successful yet. What it will look like in New Jersey after the senators stand behind a smoking ban cannot be estimated at the moment. The chances are in the direction of the smoking ban, since the incumbentGovernor Phil Murphy is by no means averse to a smoking ban.