When the pandemic hit the brick and mortar casino industry, there were a plethora of changes implemented, especially in Pennsylvania casinos. Plexiglass barriers between players and dealers were brought in and temperature checks at the doors were normal to see. Now, both are a thing of the past. However, some changes implemented during the pandemic seem here to stay, at least at some Pennsylvania casinos. Smoking has been commonplace at every physical casino but some casinos are shifting the norm in regards to players smoking. Rivers Casino Philadelphia has become the latest casino in Pennsylvania to ban smoking. This marks the third casino in Pennsylvania to ban smoking on the casino floor.
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In a statement by representatives from Rivers Casino PA, they stated that they have decided to continue the temporary ban on indoor smoking for the time being. There is a designated outdoor patio spot for smokers. As of now, guests have complied with the rule without any issues. Feedback will continue to be monitored but it has so far been positive. The ban on smoking indoors started with the mask mandate during the pandemic. In the city of Philadelphia, there was a mask mandate that lasted essentially the entire time of the pandemic. The mask mandate was lifted on April 22, 2022. The other two casinos to ban smoking in the state of Pennsylvania are Parx Casino, located in Bensalem and Mount Airy Casino. The worry of whether or not revenue would be affected by the decision has been put to rest with both casinos continuing to be up in revenue. Rivers Casino Philadelphia hopes to continue the trend as well.
The founder and President of Moyer Strategies, Chris Moyer, represents Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and stated that there is excitement about casinos banning smoking on their own decision. Not only is it the right decision for them, but it’s also the right thing for their employees, putting their health as a priority. Pennsylvania isn’t the first state to see changes in the smoking landscape. Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, and New York all have casinos that are smoke-free. A lot of the decisions to go smoke-free come from the casino employees. In Atlantic City, there has been a lot of talk from workers who are speaking out about going smoke free in the casinos. Before, the fear has always been speaking out against supervisors and the company regarding smoking on the casino floor. But it seems that the workers of Atlantic City have had enough.
A former employee of Atlantic City casinos, Mike Danay is speaking up. He worked in Atlantic City for 18 years before going to Live! Casino in Philadelphia. About 7 years into his casino career, Danay began realizing that his health was starting to suffer due to inhaling smoke throughout his day. His asthma would start to flare up and his voice would become very weak, leading him to not talk as much during his day. Now working in the non-smoking section of the Live! Casino in Philadelphia, Danay’s work experience is a lot more pleasant but is still frustrated by the smoking section. Even in the non-smoking section, you still get the smell of smoke, even with the casino’s “impressive” air ventilation system. There are no set barriers between the two leading to a lot of overlap between the smoking and non-smoking sections.
Danay also is happy to see the Atlantic City casino employees standing up for themselves. He believes that they are close to pushing the smoke out of Atlantic City casinos. With all the casinos being in close proximity, the dealers can ban together without the risk of penalties or termination.
Many studies that have been done over the years have suggested that banning smoking in casinos would be detrimental for the operator’s revenue. However, real-life applications of this test show this not to be the case. In Pennsylvania, casinos have shown that they do fine without the option to smoke. Parx Casino, for example, is one of the top casinos in the state of Pennsylvania for brick and mortar-based revenue, despite having a smoking ban for just about a year now. While Mount Airy Casino isn’t a big name in the state, the reports from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board state that they haven’t lost revenue because of the switch to non-smoking.