New Jersey (NJ) prohibited its residents from smoking in public places, bars, and restaurants. This regulation applied in public places, but Atlantic City-based casinos were exempted as the state allowed players to smoke in 25 percent of the casinos' gaming floors.
Even so, many attempts have been made since then to fully ban smoking in casinos. Unfortunately, they haven't succeeded so far as casino operators oppose the move. Still, New Jersey has a new bill which, once Governor Phil Murphy signs into law, will permanently end all forms of smoking in gaming establishments.
Discussions About Bill S264 Have Started Again
Bill S264 wants to remove the exception that the existing smoking regulation has for simulcasting facilities and casinos. It was tabled before the Senate and later presented to the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee in January 2022.
Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Shirley K. Turner sponsored the new bill, and both of them are Democrats. Yet, 11 other senators, most of whom are Democrats, have co-sponsored the bill.
Senator Vitale stated that sponsoring the new proposal was the right thing that he could do for the state. He told NJ.com that New Jersey needs to ban smoking in all casinos.
The senator asked how anyone would want people to work in an unsafe environment that will make them contract emphysema, heart disease, or cancer. He firmly believes that this is the right time for NJ to change the current smoking regulation.
More Legislatures Are Supporting the New Casino Smoking Ban Proposal
The new proposal advocates all casinos ban players from smoking on their gaming floors. They temporarily banned the activity in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as lawmakers feared that it would increase the spread of the virus in New Jersey. Even so, they lifted the ban in July 2021.
Today, over 35 members of the Assembly and state Senate have shown support for the proposal to ban smoking in NJ casinos, including those in Atlantic City. But, the bill needs to get full approval from the Assembly and Senate before Gov. Murphy signs it.
People Who Oppose the Ban Claim That It Will Reduce Employment and Revenue
NJ casinos have hired many people who work in different departments. Lawmakers and citizens who support the smoking ban claim that the bill will greatly improve the health of all casino employees. They explained that permanently banning everyone from smoking inside casinos will protect staff from second-hand smoke daily as they work.
Unlike other parts of New Jersey, Atlantic City's gambling industry has been exempted from the existing smoking regulation for a long time. Last month's report indicates that a permanent ban can impact the region's casinos' revenue.
It states that casino operators in Atlantic City might lose 11 percent of their gaming revenue because of the smoke ban. Also, it can cause 2,500 people to lose their jobs.
Still, the state's lawmakers are deliberating on whether to allow or ban smoking in each casino. Casino operators are eagerly waiting for what the legislature will decide.