During this COVID-19 pandemic, several new health and safety orders have been issued across the United States. This includes mask wearing, social distancing, and in some instance, a smoking ban. Smoking has been banned in casinos across the nation as a way to stop the spread of COVID-19. When smoke exits the mouth, so does particles that could contain the virus. Now that a temporary ban is in place, the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights group would like to see a full ban in place across the board.
The CEO and President of the group, Cynthia Hallett, sent a two-page letter to the American Gaming Association President and CEO, Bill Miller. In the letter, Ms. Hallett explained that the organization would like to see operators of casinos only take taxpayer dollars if they agree to be smoke free indoors. The casino industry should not be taking federal aid during this time of crisis if they are unwilling to make this change, according to the group.
Provide A Healthy Environment
The non-profit lobbying organization said in the letter that the act of smoking increases COVID-19 spread. It also endangers visitors and employees. An AGA spokesman said that the association is not commenting at this time on the letter and its contents.
However, the board of directors for the AGA is supposed to meet on Friday in a virtual meeting. We imagine they will at least discuss what was said in the letter among each other.
In the letter, Ms. Hallett pointed out that the Park MGM facility recently decided to ban smoking and it was the first major casino resort operator in Las Vegas to make this decision. Over 1,000 casinos in the US, with many being tribal operated, do not have an indoor non-smoking policy.
Casinos have not implemented a ban of this nature due to the fear that revenues will decrease if smokers are banned from the facilities. Ms. Hallett points out that this is not the case due to several states having bans on indoor smoking.
States like Nevada, Maryland and Ohio have permanent polices in place that bans smoking. The industry in these states has seen a year-over-year revenue increase, even though they are operating right now at a reduced capacity.
Ms. Hallett said in the letter that casinos in states that have government imposed smoking bans are seeing revenues remaining stable even when looking at the previous year. These bans are only temporary though and may be removed in the future. According to the group’s CEO, the temporary ban has helped to keep the majority of casino employees free from COVID-19.
The Nevada Resort Association has commented on smoking policies, stating that over 70 companies in the state are following the Clean Indoor Air Act. They provide several non-smoking amenities to guests. According to the Association, the members offer both environments, as allowed by law.
The association stated further that the casino resort industry places air quality at a high priority and has invested in advanced technology within its properties that helps to circulate fresh air throughout. This removes smoke and other odors.
It is unclear if the AGA will get on board with help the non-smoking group to see a change in the US. Only time will tell if the push will gain ground or if smoking will continue to be an option at casinos that choose it.