The commercial casino market has expanded over the last 25 years from two locations, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the state of Nevada, to 465 locations across 30 states. Casinos brought in approximately $30 billion in revenue in 2020.
Because smoking at casinos increases secondhand smoke exposure for both employees and customers, it poses a challenge as the market expands.
The commercial casino market has expanded over the last 25 years from two locations, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the state of Nevada, to 465 locations across 30 states. Casinos brought in approximately $30 billion in revenue in 2020. Because smoking at casinos increases secondhand smoke exposure for both employees and customers, it poses a challenge as the market expands.
Over 361,000 workers were employed by commercial casinos in 2017. When comparing a casino to other enclosed public venues where smoking is allowed, the amount of smoking there may be very high. For instance, research found that after only two hours of exposure, air pollution levels in 50% of the casinos studied were known to induce cardiovascular disease. Even in well-ventilated casinos, the levels of fine particle air pollution indoors were four to six times higher than outside air.
Naturally, this is a heated topic for debate, with many states already implementing regulations to stop visitors and employees from the effects of second-hand smoke. But what about the biggest gambling states in the nation?
Biggest Gambling States and Their Stance on Indoor Smoking
Let’s look at some of the biggest gambling states in the nation and find out whether or not you can smoke in a casino establishment.
New Jersey – gambling establishments in the state are exempted from smoke-free laws. 2006 NJ’s Smoke-Free Air Act banned smoking in public places, but allowed Atlantic City casinos to designate 25% of their gaming floors as smoking areas. Within licensed gaming establishments, there are no smoke-free regulations.
Nevada – once again, there are no smoke-free regulations in place.
Michigan – casinos are allowed to put designated smoking areas in their facilities. So, Michigan’s casinos aren’t 100% smoke-free.
Pennsylvania – just like Michigan, Pennsylvania allows casino establishments to install designated smoking areas.
West Virginia – similar to Michigan and Pennsylvania, West Virginia allows designated smoking areas. The state’s casinos aren’t 100% smoke-free.
US Casinos and Smoke-free Policies
Approximately 58 million nonsmokers in the US are still at risk of secondhand smoke exposure. Among those who do not smoke, exposure to secondhand smoke may raise their risk of heart disease, heart attacks, lung cancer, stroke, and other diseases by as much as 30%. The US Surgeon General asserts that there is no level of secondhand smoke exposure that is acceptable and that smoke-free indoor air settings are the only method to completely protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Any amount of time spent around secondhand smoke might cause a heart attack.
Adopting smoke-free rules is the best approach to shield people from secondhand smoke. The Surgeon General claims that sanitizing the air, venting buildings, and separating smokers from non-smokers are ineffective methods of preventing secondhand smoking. There have been instances when smoke-free indoor air rules have not been applied to casinos. Examples of these may be found, among other places, in Iowa (on the gambling floors), Michigan Kansas, (in the gaming sections), New Mexico, and New Jersey. Employees in casinos, even those with ventilation, had nicotine levels between 300% and 600% greater than those in other locations where smoking is permitted during working hours.
Employees at casinos are compelled by their jobs to remain in smoking areas, even for brief periods of time throughout a shift. Children and other nonsmoking guests are also in danger because secondhand smoke may contaminate other parts of casino facilities, such as restaurants and retail stores.