Las Vegas Casino Consultancy Says Smoking Bans Not Detrimental To Gaming Revenue

Posted on: June 19, 2022, 10:33h. 

Last updated on: June 19, 2022, 03:37h.

Eliminating tobacco use has little to no negative consequence on the house’s net win. That was the finding of a Las Vegas casino consultancy in a recent probe of the impact smoking bans have on gaming revenue.

Las Vegas casino smoking gambling
Poker players at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fl. A Las Vegas casino consultancy says banning indoor smoking on gaming floors has little impact on associated gaming revenues. (Image: Getty)

C3 Gaming is an analytical firm that casinos typically contract for market research. But the group says its smoking study was conducted independently on its own accord without funding from any interest group or company.

The report attempted to determine whether industry claims that banning smoking leads to reduced gaming revenue and customer losses have merit. C3 Gaming concluded that they do not.

Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly indicates that banning smoking no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue,” the C3 Gaming study summarized. “In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.”

C3 researchers scrutinized how commercial casinos that were forced to temporarily prohibit indoor smoking amid the COVID-19 pandemic fared against nearby competitors that were not required to go smoke-free. The probe found that the clean-air casinos did not experience gross gaming revenue (GGR) drops or lose market share to casinos that continued to offer smoking environments.

The C3 study comes as lawmakers in several states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island consider smoke-free casino legislation.

COVID Changes Everything

The C3 Gaming review arrived at the assumption that the pandemic greatly changed consumer behaviors in an array of industries and sectors. And for gaming, the coronavirus led to smoke-free casinos being embraced.

Researchers deduced that the non-smoking majority is no longer content to breathe contaminated, toxic air while gambling. Such bans are often undertaken just to appease the smoking minority and maintain the status quo that tobacco smoke is simply part of the gambling experience.

Along with smoke-free commercial casinos faring just fine during the mandatory smoke-out in 2020, many Native American casinos opted to voluntarily prohibit smoking amid the pandemic. Dozens of those tribal casinos later decided to permanently ban indoor smoking. That’s after learning that such regulation did not hurt gaming income. C3 says there are at least 157 tribal casinos operating smoke-free in 2022.

“The pandemic has had a profound effect on consumer attitudes and behaviors across a wide range of industries, including casinos and casino-hotels, and customers have come to accept certain changes once thought unthinkable,” the C3 authors explained.

Smoking Ban Could Help Responsible Play

The gaming industry continues to maintain that smoking bans hurt gaming. But one potential benefit of eliminating indoor smoke is that it could lessen the societal harm gambling can inflict.

A smoking ban, the C2 study believes, could help problem gamblers limit their losses. The C3 researchers point to MGM Resorts’ own responsible gaming policy that advises players, “Every once in a while, it is a good idea to walk away from the game you’re playing.

Taking a break can help you make smarter decisions so gambling stays what it should be — a fun activity,” MGM’s GameSense program advises.

C3 says the casinos acknowledging that breaks prompt more reasonable play highlights their wishes to have it both ways.

“Their argument that a casino will make more money if smokers remain at their games is the antithesis of one of the principles of responsible gaming,” the study concluded.