New Jersey AG and Local 54 of Unite Here Ask Judge to Dismiss Casino Smoking Ban Lawsuit

Sadonna Price Author Pic
Sadonna Price
Legal & Regulation
Online Casino New Jersey
New Jersey AG and Local 54 of Unite Here Ask Judge to Dismiss Casino Smoking Ban Lawsuit


  • Smoking is currently allowed on 25% of the game floor of casinos
  • The United Auto Workers union wants smoking banned
  • Unite Here is not in favor of a smoking ban

The main casino workers union in Atlantic City, Local 54 of Unite Here, has teamed up with the New Jersey Attorney General to ask a judge to dismiss a casino smoking ban lawsuit. The United Auto Workers union, representing casino dealers, filed the lawsuit seeking to see smoking banned in all New Jersey casinos. The Local 54 fears that such a ban will result in major job losses.

One-Third of 10,000 Jobs Could be Lost

Local 54 fears that if smoking were banned in Atlantic City casinos, such as Caesars or MGM, it would lead to a huge job loss. In a state Superior Court filing, the Local 54 stated that a third of the 10,000 employees of casinos would be at risk of losing their job. Support to families would then drop, all because of a smoking ban. 

Right now, smoking is allowed on 25% of the gaming floor. The areas are not enclosed, and smoke travels, so secondhand smoke is an issue, no matter what NJ casinos do to combat the problem. Earlier this month, the United Auto Workers group representing table game dealers from Tropicana, Caesars, and Bally’s filed a lawsuit to try to overturn the indoor smoking law within casinos. 

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin stated that the New Jersey indoor smoking laws do not deny any group of people equal protection under the law and do not infringe on a constitutional right to safety. 

A Reaction to Local 54’s Request

Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer involved in the lawsuit filing for a smoking ban, stated that the request by Local 54 is incredulous. She has never seen a union fight against the health and safety of its members, and Unite’s economic arguments are false and have no relevance to the constitutional question in the filing.

Local 54 president Donna DeCaprio stated that the union supports the health and safety of members and believes that improvements to the current work environment must be made. A balance must be reached to protect everyone's health and preserve jobs.

According to DiCaprio, a total smoking ban would be catastrophic for Atlantic City as it would eliminate a high percentage of earnings. Reportedly, as much as 72% of gambling revenues come from the smoking sections.

The Local 54 has been a strong supporter of continual smoking in casinos. They endorsed legislation earlier in the year that would keep the current 25% smoking limit on the gaming floor. The new measure would allow the smoking sections, but make sure they are over 15 feet from table games that feature live dealers. 

Casinos could also install enclosed, separately ventilated areas for smoking, and any worker would have the right to avoid working in such areas. This seems to be a compromise, but secondhand smoke is still an issue and will remain a big element as legislation is considered. Allowing smoking in any area of a casino creates the threat of secondhand smoke, which could become a major issue.

Similar Bans in Other States in the Works

Along with New Jersey, other states are fighting to see smoking become nonexistent in casinos. States such as Virginia, Rhode Island, Kansas, and Pennsylvania are considering legislation to eliminate smoking. It may still be some years yet, but as smoking starts to die off among younger generations, we should see a major shift in what casinos allow on their gaming floors.

It will be interesting to see how this recent filing plays out. Which union will win, and will smoking ever be banned in New Jersey?

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.