Casino workers in Atlantic City are still seeking support for the proposed smoking ban from a number of state legislators. Earlier this week, they took part in a long-awaited hearing on a proposed piece of legislation that would put an end to smoking inside the gambling hub’s casinos.
At the hearing, casino dealers, cocktail servers and other casino employees gave testimony before a state Senate panel to support a bill that would close an existing loophole in the 2006 indoor smoking law of the state. The measure’s wording was specifically written to provide casino venues with an exemption from the indoor smoking suspension. For the time being, smoking is allowed on 25% of the gambling floors of Atlantic City casinos.
Despite the fact that no action was taken on the proposed piece of legislation, many lawmakers gave their support to the ban, saying such a measure was long overdue.
The possibility of banning smoking inside Atlantic City casinos has been one of the most controversial issues not only in New Jersey but in other states as well. Similar campaigns are being rolled out in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Democratic Senator Richard Codey, who was the acting governor at the time when the indoor smoking law was adopted by state lawmakers, shared that he is now sorry to have passed that piece of legislation. According to him, it is now high time for the state of New Jersey to implement a casino smoking ban.
Proposed Smoking Ban Measure Has Bipartisan Majority Support in Local Legislature
At the aforementioned hearing that took place at the beginning of the week, the main casino workers’ union in Atlantic City took 60 of its members to the state Capitol to oppose the ones calling for the implementation of a smoking ban. These employees support the gambling and casino industry’s position that such a suspension would have a detrimental impact on the sector, placing Atlantic City at an obvious disadvantage with casinos in neighboring areas.
As previously reported, the issue is among the most controversial ones in the US gambling and casino hub, which has been facing certain difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Only three of the nine casino venues there – Ocean, Borgata, and Resorts – managed to excel in their revenue levels form before the coronavirus pandemic in terms of money generated by in-person customers in 2022.
Last year, only half of the casino revenue in Atlantic City was generated by in-person gamblers. The other 50% was generated online and under the provisions of the law, is required to be shared with third parties, such as sportsbook operators and tech platforms.
New Jersey’s Casino Association submitted written testimony that opposed a smoking ban, saying that the implementation of such a measure, while smoking is still allowed in neighboring states’ casinos, would have an extremely strong negative effect on the already worsening and weakened economic climate in the state. According to the Association’s officials, the implementation of the proposed smoking ban would put thousands of jobs in the sector in danger and would jeopardize tax revenue worth millions of dollars.
A large number of New Jersey lawmakers, however, support the suspension of smoking in local casinos. Identical pieces of legislation seeking to ban smoking are sponsored or co-sponsored by 23 State Senators and 51 members of the Assembly, proving that the measure has bipartisan majority support in both legislative chambers.