Going smoke-free inside casinos helps with employee wellness and does not hurt the bottom line, according to panelists at a tribal casino event in Las Vegas.
Clinton Isham, an Americans for Nonsmokers Rights’ Foundation consultant, worked with the Ho Chunk tribe in Wisconsin in going smoke-free in 2015. He said an initial falloff in casino revenue soon turned into a positive cash flow, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“After two to three months of declines after the change, we had an unbelievable increase for three to four months,” Isham said.
Isham was one of four panelists Tuesday in a casino-smoking session at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, the newspaper reported. The event, hosted by the National Indian Gaming Association, is being held at Caesars Forum east of the Las Vegas Strip
Another panelist, Terry Savage, said employees like working in smoke-free environments. He is executive director of tribal enterprises for the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa Indians.
A lot of the employees were scared about COVID and wondered what would happen to their jobs if smoking were banned,” he said. “Once the change was made, the air quality improved in the casino and employees were happier.”
Savage said data from the casino’s loyalty program indicates the lowest-rated players are the ones who complain loudest about not being able to smoke.
Smoking Debate Heats Up
Casino smoking bans have become a hot topic around the nation, from New Jersey to Nevada.
In Louisiana, the Shreveport City County last week shot down an effort to allow smoking in the city’s two riverboat casinos. Councilman James Furry said Shreveport casino workers would lose jobs if customers who smoke take their money to gambling halls in Bossier City, across the Red River. The council shelved Flurry’s plan to permit smoking in Shreveport casinos.
Raegan Carter of Smoke-free Louisiana said it is “insidious and insensitive” to imply smoking bans will cause workers to lose their jobs.
“This is perpetuated by a multimillion-dollar industry that apparently cares more about draining money from its customers than protecting its own employees,” she said.
The smoking ban at Shreveport casinos beings Aug. 1.
Limited Smoking on Las Vegas Strip
In Nevada, a few casinos have embraced at least a limited-smoking policy. Last fall, Park MGM on the west side of the Strip implemented a no-smoking mandate throughout the resort, including on the gaming floor. NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury hotel on the top four floors of Park MGM, also bans smoking.
The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas and newly opened Resorts World Las Vegas allow smoking in the casino, but not elsewhere. Both resorts are on the west side of the Strip.
An anti-smoking group based in the Northern California Bay Area has asked the Oakland A’s and Major League Baseball to help in pushing for a smoking ban in Nevada casinos. The A’s prohibit smoking at their stadium in Oakland. Team executives are considering moving the A’s to Las Vegas.
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