AGA CEO Says Casinos Going Smokefree "Hasn't Led to a Decrease in Business"
In Interview in Atlantic City, Bill Miller Says Casinos That Have Gone Smokefree Have Done So "Without Detrimental Effects."
October 28, 2021
Atlantic City, NJ -- In the latest sign that views on indoor smoking at casinos are shifting, the head of the casino gaming industry's powerful lobbying group is rebutting an argument made by many of the organization's members who prioritize perceived benefits to their bottom lines from allowing smoking over the health of their frontline employees.
In an interview with Play NJ, American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller says that casinos that have gone smokefree have done so "without detrimental effect" and that the decision "hasn't led to a decrease in business." The question came during an interview Miller conducted while at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City earlier this week, where more than one hundred casino employees protested indoor smoking and pushed Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney to close the casino loophole that forces them to choose between their health and a paycheck.
Here is the complete exchange:
David Danzis, Play NJ: "As we speak, there is a rally outside of casino workers who are protesting indoor smoking. Does the AGA have an official stance on smoking inside casinos?"
Bill Miller: "The AGA does not have an official position on smoking. I will say, I’ve certainly heard from different operators that during COVID and having smoking bans on properties hasn’t led to a decrease in business. And that has been one of the areas that people had been previously concerned about. So what’s the future of smoking in casinos?
"You know, I think that’s up to the individual states and even the individual localities, and frankly, the individual properties. And so that is going to be an issue that continues to work itself out. But we’ve already seen some properties make decisions around smoking, post-COVID, that they were forced to make during COVID, and without detrimental effects."
This is the second time in the last few months that Miller has indicated that industry concerns about losing business as a result of going smokefree indoors are overblown. During a conference call with reporters in August, Miller said that some in the industry fear that smokefree policies will hurt the bottom line, “but it’s not necessarily true.” The comment came as AGA published a report showing that U.S. commercial gaming revenue hit an all-time high of $13.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021--a period during which casinos in some of the biggest gaming markets across the country, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, operated smokefree indoors.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS' RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmokers' 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/.