As Casinos Struggle to Hire, Advocates Say Getting Rid of Indoor Smoking Would Help
“No Worker Wants to Get Sick as a Result of Working in Smoke-Filled Environment”
April 15, 2022
Atlantic City, NJ— An Associated Press report finds that Atlantic City casinos are scrambling to hire staff as pandemic-induced restrictions are lifted, more people are returning to casinos and revenues top pre-pandemic earning levels. This comes as these same casino executives claim they will have to slash jobs if bipartisan legislation to create a smokefree work environment – which continues to gain support in Trenton – were to become law.
According to the AP:
“Everybody’s looking to hire the same person,” said Bill Callahan, general manager of the Ocean casino in Atlantic City. “We always need people.”
“Coming out of COVID, especially last year, after the restrictions were lifted, the workforce supply just has not been available,” Joe Lupo said. “It’s been difficult for all of us to find enough people. I certainly know after meeting with everyone last week that every property is hiring.”
“No worker wants to get sick as a result of working in a smoke-filled environment, but that’s exactly what casinos are offering to potential employees. No wonder they’re struggling to hire,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR). “If casinos want to attract workers, they should join every other New Jersey employer in ditching the outdated business practice of allowing indoor smoking. Once legislation to eliminate the casino smoking loophole becomes law, Atlantic City casinos will find more employees willing to accept job offers and help the industry continue to thrive.”
Atlantic City casinos are making multi-million dollar investments in their properties and posting better earnings than before the pandemic. At the same time, hundreds of Atlantic City casino workers rallied to call on lawmakers to close the casino loophole.
Casinos are the only workplaces in New Jersey where the state allows indoor smoking, forcing casino frontline workers to choose between their health and a paycheck. Companion bills introduced in the state legislature have received an unusually high number of cosponsors with 28 cosponsors in the Assembly and 15 in the Senate – including a majority of members of both the Senate and Assembly Health Committees. Governor Murphy has repeatedly said he'd sign this legislation. A report released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement earlier this month shows that Atlantic City casinos are thriving, as earnings in 2021 surpassed where they were even before the pandemic, beating out 2019 earnings by over $172 million.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS' RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.