According to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a California-based organization that advocates for non-smokers’ rights is pushing Vegas casinos to ban smoking indoors to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, penned a two-page letter to Bill Miller, CEO of the American Gaming Association that suggests casino operators reject any COVID-19 relief money from taxpayers unless their businesses adopt a smoke-free indoor policy. Hallett and her organization believe that such a policy would help keep casino employees and patrons safe.
Casino operators cite a fear of losing business if they ban smoking or only allow it outdoors. Hallett and her organization provided examples of other casinos that have implemented smoke-free policies, including the Park MGM in Vegas, who have not seen a drop in revenue. “In states with permanent smoke-free policies, such as Maryland and Ohio, the industry is experiencing year-over-year revenue increases, despite operating at reduced capacity,” Halletts stated in her letter to the AGA. More than 1,000 casinos across the U.S. currently have banned indoor smoking, many of them tribal operations, according to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Casinos in states that were forced to abide by a state-imposed, temporary smoke-free policy in order to reopen, such as Pennsylvania, have seen revenues remain relatively stable compared to the previous year, especially considering they have been operating at significantly reduced capacity, and the smoke-free policy has helped to keep 99 percent of gaming employees COVID-19.”