For the time being, it remains unknown whether outdoor gambling options would at least partially solve an impasse between casino employees who want to see smoking banned from Atlantic City casinos and the representatives of the local gambling sector who fear a smoking ban would seriously hurt their businesses and cost the industry a lot of jobs.
According to experts, that may depend on the exact definition of “outdoor gambling”.
As CasinoGamesPro has reported, a large number of casino workers have been calling for the state lawmakers to enact a law that would see smoking inside the 9 Atlantic City casinos banned. Currently, casinos are the only establishments on the territory of the state of New Jersey where indoor smoking is still available, so the trade association of the industry – the Casino Association of New Jersey – has opposed the proposed smoking ban, claiming that it would result in serious lay-offs and lower earnings.
A bill that would see indoor smoking in local casinos has not been considered by the New Jersey lawmakers for months, so it would eventually have a hearing, although more than 50% of the local legislators have been announced as its sponsors and co-sponsors. In 2021, an identical piece of legislation faced the same fate, as it was left without action, despite calls on the lawmakers to do something about it.
Casino Workers Must Not Be Made Suffer Second-Hand Smoke
As CasinoGamesPro reported, a group of casino workers has shared that any solution to the matter includes two demands that are not to be negotiated – that no smoking is allowed inside the casinos, and that no casino employee is exposed to second-hand smoke at their workplace.
Under the existing rules in Atlantic City, smoking is currently allowed on 25% of the casino floor, but the areas are not clearly defined, so indoor smoking is pretty much spread throughout the entire gambling floor, which, according to opponents of the practice, makes the entire casino floor a smoking area. As previously reported, the establishment of outdoor gambling spaces where smoking is allowed could be a partial solution to the problem. Unfortunately, despite the ongoing discussions between state Legislators, casino officials, and casino employees, there is no wide agreement on what is constituted as an outdoor area.
According to campaigners, actual outdoor areas could be a workable solution as long as casinos guarantee that no worker is exposed to second-hand smoke. There are already some outdoor smoking areas available but they are considered a significant investment for the gambling company to build. Such outdoor areas cost between $10 million and $15 million to be established, which is considered too high of a price tag for the financial capabilities of all casinos in Atlantic City.
Several other ideas, such as cleating indoor smoking areas that were staffed only by employees who agree to work there, have been discussed, with the main objective being the long-standing belief that smoke at casinos should not compromise worker health. According to the president of the local Casino Association, a hasty and reckless ban on indoor smoking could actually hurt the industry, leading to less tax money and fewer jobs in the sector.