The fight against Atlantic City Casino smoking has been ongoing for years. Bill after bill is introduced, only to be shot down by lawmakers. This year, New Jersey casinos are at risk of losing smoking privileges due to a new measure. An anti-smoking bill is on the table, and the Senate health committee will consider the measure early next week. The bill seeks to eliminate a loophole that allows smoking in casinos. The same committee did not take action regarding a similar bill last year, so we may not see any movement this time around as well.
New Jersey Lawmakers to Review Anti-Smoking Bill for Casinos Next Week
- Atlantic City casinos are against an outright ban.
- Proponents want to protect the health of employees and visitors.
- The effort to pass such legislation has been ongoing.
A Long Road Ahead
For the smoking ban to make any headway, it must first get through the health committee and move on to the budget committee for consideration. From there, it will need to be voted on within the full legislature. If the bill is approved, it must be signed by Governor Phil Murphy, who said he would sign such a measure if one makes it to his desk.
The effort would remove a loophole that is connected to the NJ Smoke-Free Air Act from April 2006. The law banned smoking indoors across the state. The only exceptions were Atlantic City Casinos, social clubs, and cigar lounges.
Based on a municipal ordinance, indoor smoking in casinos was to be limited to 25% or less of the casino floor. While this seems small, we all know that smoke travels. The smell and actual smoke element can easily move through a full building, affecting the health of everyone onsite.
Bills have been introduced yearly for the past few years, only to be shot down in the legislative process. It is unclear if the casinos are pushing lawmakers in the decision-making process or if the lawmakers do not agree with the elements of the measures.
Non-Smoking Can Be Done
While Atlantic City casinos have offered smoking for many years, there was a recent time period when smoking was banned. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a ban was added to stop smoking for a short time due to fear of spreading the virus. The casinos could remain open and see players visiting despite the smoking ban. It is important to note that the smoking ban and the threat of COVID-19 did not sway players from visiting the Atlantic City venues.
Smoking was banned after the casinos reopened in mid-2020, and by July 2021, smoking was reinstituted. The casinos wasted no time allowing smoking again since they feel it will help to bring in patrons.
The Casino Workers Against Smoking’s (Harmful) Effects and the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation are frustrated with the fact that the casinos went smoke-free, and they are not willing to do it long-term.
Casinos feel that if they stop allowing smoking, it would affect their bottom line. The operators feel that players will not visit, which will cause a decrease in revenues and a need for job reductions, which will negatively affect the local community.
Proponents point out that other states have casinos and smoking bans, and revenues are unaffected. The casinos in AC continue to stick to their argument and are not backing down. If lawmakers do not show enough support for the new 2024 measure, we may see the same scenario we have continued to see year after year.
The casinos seem to always win in this case, and employees and patrons are stuck with the smoke-filled gaming floors rather than a smoke-free environment. It will be interesting to see the outcome next week as lawmakers discuss the measure in the new year.
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.