Nonsmokers Group Urges All US Casinos and Gaming Venues to Go Smoke-Free at G2E

Posted on: October 17, 2019, 07:43h. 

Last updated on: October 18, 2019, 10:20h.

LAS VEGAS – A group that is pushing for all casinos to ban smoking said in a statement that gaming venues across the country need to adopt smoke-free environments if they want to attract younger patrons to their facilities.

The Ho-Chunk Gaming Casino in Madison, Wis. is one of nearly 800 casinos and gaming venues across the country that prohibit smoking. Smokefree Casinos is urging all US casinos to follow suit. (Image: ANR Foundation)

Smokefree Casinos called on gaming companies to take that step as it released its statement at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Smokefree Casinos is an initiative of the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANR Foundation).

“Nine out of 10 young adults are non-smokers,” said Cynthia Hallett, foundation president and CEO. “Millennials favor doing business with values-driven companies. These trends can also impact a casino’s ability to attract future customers and be an employer of choice for a large and diverse workforce.”

Smokefree Casinos also noted that while it’s a way casinos can attract younger customers, they also claim older customers would benefit from the move as well. A recent US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 92 percent of Americans 65 and older do not smoke.

Already, 20 states, as well as numerous cities and sovereign tribal nations, have already enacted bans that require gaming venues within their jurisdictions to prohibit smoking indoors.

‘Business Imperative’

Beyond being a good customer service move, Hallett said that when casinos adopt smoke-free policies, it shows their willingness to embrace social responsibility. She added that in August, more than 180 corporate CEOs signed a Business Roundtable agreement to lead their companies on behalf of all stakeholders and not just financial shareholders.

Creating a smoke-free environment is no longer just a public health issue; it’s a business imperative,” she said. “In the past, casinos and other entertainment venues got a pass as people just accepted that they had to put up with secondhand smoke in that environment, but no more. Today we have nearly 800 smoke-free casinos and other gambling venues in the United States. We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress.”

None of the Business Roundtable signees, though, represented gaming companies.

Where There’s No Smoke

In addition to the statement, Smokefree Casinos posted a list of select gaming companies and the number of their properties that prohibit smoking.

The only company that is completely smoke-free is Gaming and Leisure Properties, which owns and operates Hollywood casinos in Baton Rouge, La., and Perryville, Md.

Other companies that fare well according to Smokefree Casinos data are JACK Entertainment, Delaware North, and Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI). Those companies are the only ones where more than half of their employees work in smoke-free venues.

Smokefree Casinos lists JACK as having 95 percent of its employees covered by a ban. But that count was taken before it sold its Cincinnati casino to Hard Rock International and Turfway Park, a northern Kentucky racetrack, to Churchill Downs. Its only remaining properties are the JACK Casino in Cleveland and JACK Thistledown Racino in North Randall, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.

Smoking is not available at 10 of Delaware North’s 12 gaming venues. As a result, 71 percent of its employees work in a smoke-free environment.

Less than a third of CDI’s properties, 8 of 25, do not allow smoking. However, those that have banned smoking include the indoor portions of its namesake track. That means 59 percent of Churchill employees are protected.

On the other end of the scale, none of the five Landry’s Golden Nugget casinos ban smoking, and just six of Caesars Entertainment’s 39 prohibit it. Elsewhere, just two of the 29 Boyd Gaming venues no longer allow smoking, and four of MGM Resorts International’s 18 facilities. At Eldorado Resorts, the number is six of 26.