On Monday, lawmakers began to debate a measure to ban an exception regarding smoking in New Jersey Casinos. If the measure passes, it would be a huge change to the gaming industry, with casinos fearful that revenues would drop dramatically. Casino employees are pushing for the ban, testifying in a recent hearing as to why they do not want to be affected by secondhand smoke any longer.
Casinos Employees Testify During NJ Casino Smoking Ban Hearing
- Casino employees want smoking banned due to health concerns.
- The ban would be similar to those in place in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.
- Opponents say that a smoking ban will harm casino revenue earnings.
Opponents Claim Revenue Losses
The major argument from casinos on the matter of smoking is revenue losses. Gambling operators feel that if they were to do away with smoking, they would see a huge drop in earnings. This would then result in job losses which would negatively affect employees.
Proponents of the measure say that the claims are false. CEO and president of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, Cynthia Hallett, commented that casinos couldn’t even fill their current job openings, so claiming job losses is ‘hot air.’
Hallett also pointed out that casinos wouldn’t have an issue finding employees to fill empty positions if they didn’t have a smoke-filled work environment that lasted eight hours a day. According to the CEO, indoor smoking should end, and then use that as a recruiting tool for new hires.
COVID-19 Creates Smoke-Free Environment
While casinos say they cannot function without smoking, we have seen them do it before. In late 2020, casinos were prohibited from allowing indoor smoking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus was in its early stages and was highly transferrable, overwhelming the hospital systems.
In September 2020, casinos were allowed to operate with major restrictions in place, including no indoor smoking. Casinos even upgraded some ventilation systems to ensure the air was clean and healthy for guests.
The ban was in place for around ten months, with smoking reinstated after Governor Phil Murphy lifted the ban. At the time, the governor said he would support a permanent ban on smoking. The governor pointed out that the casinos still get good business and it’s the right thing to do for health.
Because the casinos were able to function and do well during the smoking ban and the pandemic, opponents of smoking are using that as their argument. And it makes sense. Players were still willing to visit New Jersey Casinos during a pandemic when they could get sick and while smoking was not allowed.
It would certainly be a different environment, but it does not seem to be one that players would be opposed to. Like most things, consumers adapt and carry on as normal. Casinos could also offer their patrons smoking areas outside and make it easy to access the venue once they are finished smoking.
No Vote on the Matter Yet
The hearing was simply a way to start discussing the legislation connected to the casino smoking ban, and a vote has yet to take place. It’s expected that the process will be slow going, and there will be fighting from both sides.
Employees are ready to continue with their argument, hopeful that they will be able to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke in the future. Several employees testified during the most recent hearing, and it would not be surprising to see more involved in future hearings, especially once a vote is set to take place.
Proponents of smoking will also be ready to continue their argument. Casinos will no doubt start to lobby hard as a vote approaches to avoid any major changes to their operations.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the battle ends and which side will be victorious. Will it be the smoking proponents or the employees who wish to see an end to the health hazard in the workplace?
Having started in 2005 as an online writer, Sadonna has focused on the online gambling industry, with a keen knowledge of various subjects. Sadonna has followed the growing US-based gambling industry for decades, covering all the legal changes in the nation as well as information on land-based and online casinos. She enjoys updating fellow gamblers on new games, casino bonuses, and additional information for premium gaming services. In her spare time, Sadonna loves spending time with her family and singing on Smule. Sadonna hopes to continue working in the online gambling industry and building quality articles for players to learn more about the US market.