Atlantic City Coalition to Ban Smoking in Casinos Adds More Support  

Cigarette and cigar smoke may soon leave casino gaming floors in Atlantic City despite fears that in doing so, an economic morose may befall New Jersey’s beating gambling heart. The issue has proven divisive, but support in favor of snuffing out smoke from casinos and simulcasting facilities is gaining even more traction, an announcement by the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights said.

According to the press release assemblyman Daniel Benson and assemblywoman Lisa Swain have both endorsed A2151 and S264 and support the prohibition of smoking in casinos. Benson said that it was elected officials’ responsibility to protect workers from the dangers of secondhand smoking.

Swain echoed this sentiment. Nobody should have to breathe in secondhand smoke on their job, Swain stated flatly. There are now 39 legislators who are pushing for this legislation to pass. So far, 15 out of New Jersey’s 40 senators are also endorsing S265 while 24 members of the assembly are co-sponsoring A2151.

Essentially, there is no shortage of legislators who are keen to endorse the move and push it forward. Naturally, there have been those who oppose the measure and argue it would be detrimental and come at a time when Atlantic City’s casinos are recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

The Casino Association of New Jersey commissioned Spectrum Gaming Group, a research firm, that estimated that should casinos go smokeless, as many as 2,500 casino jobs may be lost and as much as 11% of the casinos’ revenues may drop.

According to industry observers, smokers tend to make up 21% of Atlantic City’s active gambling population, which means one-in-five gamblers. Based on this data, smokers are not as important for Atlantic City would they still constitute an important part of the demographic.

Smokers Big Spenders, But Not Necessary for Success

More importantly, though, it seems that smokers tend to be the bigger spenders and generally tend to lose more money when gambling. They also tend to buy into other amenities as well, which boosts the casinos’ bottom line. Many industry stakeholders have been careful about ushering in a ban on smoking in Atlantic City too soon after the pandemic lockdown. Visitors are still not at pre-pandemic levels which already deprives Atlantic City of important revenue.

An argument that Atlantic City may start losing money to Pennsylvanian casinos has also fallen short of the mark, after Pennsylvania lawmakers announced similar measures to limit smoking in casinos, removing a lingering exemption that may soon be tossed out of the legislation. There are already examples of casinos limiting smoking successfully around the country, with most reporting good financial results since rolling in the measure.