Hard Rock Atlantic City has issued a memo to its employees informing them that they must receive company approval before discussing relevant gaming matters with members of the media.
First obtained by Politico, the Hard Rock memo tells the resort’s more than 3,600 employees that they should refrain from speaking with the media on behalf of the casino. All media access requests must be approved by Hard Rock Atlantic City’s public relations director.
Only authorized and approved team members are permitted to represent the property in the media. This includes radio call-ins, TV interviews, and/or comments to newspaper and magazine writers,” the memo warns.
The letter goes on to tell staff members that they are not to respond to media inquiries.
“DO NOT attempt to answer questions from a reporter,” the memo states. “They [journalist] must go through public relations. Provide the journalist an email address or phone number for a public relations team member to contact.”
Hard Rock Atlantic City President Joe Lupo also heads up the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ). Lupo himself has been the subject of recent negative publicity for comments he made during a February luncheon with the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City.
During his address, Lupo scolded an effort among some resort workers to ban indoor casino smoking. Groups such as Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) have come out in support of legislation being pushed in Trenton to end the casinos’ clean indoor air loophole.
Lupo downplayed the opposition among the gaming industry’s workforce.
“I don’t believe that 30 people walking down the Boardwalk represents the 21,000 employees that are employed in the casinos,” Lupo said.
The comment immediately garnered backlash from CEASE.
Joe Lupo should not be mocking casino employees who simply want a safe workplace. Whether it’s 30 workers or the thousands who have joined CEASE, we deserve respect and a voice in our own health and safety,” responded Pete Naccarelli, co-founder of CEASE.
Naccarelli went on to say that Lupo “is leading the fight to keep forcing us to breathe secondhand smoke on the job.” CEASE later demanded an apology from Lupo, an appeal that went unfulfilled.
New Jersey lawmakers continue to mull two pieces of legislation in the Senate and General Assembly that would repeal the casinos’ indoor smoking exemption provided to them under the state’s 2006 clean air act. The bills continue to attract legislative cosponsors.
Senate Bill 264 — authored and introduced in January by Senators Shirley Turney (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) and Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) — has since garnered 14 Senate cosponsors. Assembly Bill 2151 — introduced in February by Assemblypersons William Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester), Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester), and Herb Conway (D-Burlington), has attracted the signatures of 32 cosponsors.
But before the lawmakers can vote on the legislation, the bills must first pass their assigned committees. With strong hostility from the gaming industry, the bills have stalled in their respective chamber health committees.
SB 264 rests with the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. AB 2151 remains with the Assembly Health Committee.
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