An anti-smoking group has accused Atlantic City's leading casinos of prohibiting their workers from talking to the media about a proposed indoor casino smoking ban. Yet, the city's residents support it.
POLITICO got a copy of the media policy, which shows that Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City set a new regulation that each employee should seek permission before they talk to the media.
Only Specific Casino Workers Represent the Firm
Hard Rock Casino's media policy indicates that only specific people can represent it in a media interview. It further explains the channels it is concerned about whenever someone mentions media. They include newspaper and magazine comments, radio call-ins, and television interviews.
Anyone who the casino hasn't approved to speak to the media has to get authorization first. Many Atlantic City casino workers have been vocal of late about the smoking ban proposal. They claim that secondhand exposure deteriorates their health.
Some private employers use a similar approach as the one Hard Rock Casino has as a way of battling the huge public relations campaigns that the workers are running. About 2,500 casino employees support the smoking ban so far. Governor Phil Murphy expressed his support for the smoking ban proposal.
Atlantic City's Casino Industry Is Opposing the Smoking Ban
Atlantic City has witnessed several indoor casino smoking ban proposals in the recent past. It banned the practice in 2008, resulting in a 20 percent decline in its casino revenue. The local gaming industry opposes the proposal claiming that there won't be any change.
Hard Rock Atlantic City President Joe Lupo said that blackjack and roulette games in casinos that accept smoking generate 50 percent more revenue than those in non-smoking zones. He stated that most of their employees are opposing the proposal claiming that it will adversely affect their work.
The Spectrum Gaming Group conducted a study in which it discovered that Atlantic City casinos will lose 2,500 jobs if they fully ban smoking. Also, it would cause a 20 to 25 percent revenue decline. About 21 percent of the area's bettors are smokers who spend more money than non-smokers.
Even so, some casino employees aren't bothered with profits. Tammy Brady, a dealer supervisor in Borgata Casino, claimed that during the 37 years that she has been in the gaming industry, she has discovered that secondhand smoke exposure has been the worst experience in her job. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and is on medical leave.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did a study which revealed that half of the casino workers are susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. They are often exposed to high air pollution levels for more than an hour.
Still, some Atlantic City casinos claim that implementing a smoking ban will hinder their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Only two of them have exceeded the profitability levels they had before the health crisis.
Nicole Vitola, a Borgata dealer, stated that it is heartbreaking seeing workmates falling ill in casinos, yet the industry lacks health protections that other industries in the country provide.
She claimed that cancer diagnoses among casino workers have been done for 16 years, and some of them have succumbed to the disease. Yet, gaming operators haven't prioritized their employees' health.