Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Operators Institute Temporary Smoking Ban

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many changes across the US. Cities as well as entire states have instituted mask wearing in order to try and slow the spread of the deadly virus. For casinos, the rules are strict as reopening begins after many weeks or even months of shut down. In Oklahoma, tribal gaming operators have decided to institute a temporary smoking ban to promote mask wearing at all times.

Good Decision

Many are hailing the temporary smoking ban as a good decision by the tribal operators. The American Lung Association in the state of Oklahoma spoke out on the decision, stating they feel the policy will help protect employee and customer health from secondhand smoke and emissions from e-cigarettes. They would like to see the tribes permanently adopt this rule change.

The rule change was a result of the executive order by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. to require mask wearing on all business properties operated by the Cherokee. According to the tribal operators, as long as there is a mask policy, then the smoking policy will remain.

The tribes are also experiencing positive feedback from the people as they are happy about the smoking ban. Some people are upset and that is expected, but the response has been positive.

Many Tribal Operators

In Oklahoma, there are over 30 tribes that operate casinos. All of them have made changes to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some tribal facilities require customers to wear a mask while others do not. Many operators have made changes to their smoking policies due to mask wearing. Some have designated smoking areas outside or in certain areas of the casino instead of a full ban.

The Chickasaw Nation decided to avoid a full on ban but created gaming areas that are reserved for non-smokers at its larger casino venues. There are direct entrances to these areas where players can walk inside without passing through smokey areas.

Patrons must wear masks but they can make an adjustment when eating, drinking or smoking. Gaming operators in other states have instituted smoking bans and even decided not to offer food or drink in order to keep players from taking off their mask and possibly spreading the virus.

Casinos are checking temperatures and asking questions of those entering a facility across the US. While this works to help slow the spread, people can be asymptomatic. By wearing a mask, it helps to keep any potential germs from spreading by those who may be affected by the virus but not showing any symptoms.

It is interesting to note the major changes casinos are facing now that Covid-19 remains a threat. Operators as well as players are hoping that operations can continue so that there is not another shut down or even stricter rules and regulations in place in the future.

Casinos are operating at a lower capacity and will be able to open up further if the virus starts to slow down.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.