Ending Indoor Smoking Should Be Part of Industry’s Responsible Gaming Commitment

Responsible Gaming Education Month Begins Today

Casinos’ “Continued Insistence on Allowing Indoor Smoking Undermines” Their Commitment to Responsible Gaming

September 1, 2022

Atlantic City, NJ As Responsible Gaming Education Month kicks off today, advocates for smokefree casinos are making the connection between permitting indoor smoking and gambling addiction. Permitting indoor smoking discourages smokers who gamble from taking breaks, one of the key tenets of responsible gaming. 

“Casinos will spend the next few weeks emphasizing their commitment to ensuring gamblers play responsibly, but their continued insistence on allowing indoor smoking only undermines this commitment,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “One part of responsible gambling is taking periodic breaks. Smokers who must step outside to smoke take a responsible break. Casinos should encourage these breaks as part of their responsible gaming efforts, not try to keep them on the machines as long as possible. Putting profits over guests’ potential gambling addiction is anything but responsible, and the industry’s commitment to responsible gaming should include ending indoor smoking.”

Further, the leading organization dealing with gambling addiction is warning legislators that continuing to allow indoor smoking at Atlantic City casinos will only continue to encourage gambling addiction, but that passing bipartisan bills, S264 and A2151, to close the casino smoking loophole would help to address this concern.

“Making casinos smokefree is likely to reduce the incidence of problem gambling and improve public health,” wrote the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) in separate letters to members of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly.

The NCPG letter comes just weeks after Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming released a report showing that casinos have unwittingly acknowledged that allowing indoor smoking only furthers gambling addiction. From the C3 Gaming report: 
“Casinos throughout North America have made commitments to support responsible gambling initiatives. Virtually all operators have links to websites that provide additional information regarding playing responsibly. A recent study commissioned by the Casino Association of New Jersey projects gaming revenue losses based on smokers having to take breaks, which is the antithesis of one of the principles of responsible gaming…What the authors of that report unwittingly acknowledge is that a casino that prohibits smoking risks losing gaming revenue because a certain portion of players who smoke decide during their smoke break to walk away. In other words, they chose to play responsibly, and taking a periodic smoking break allowed them to do so. Their argument that a casino will make more money if smokers remain at their games is the antithesis of one of the principles of responsible gaming.”

With lawmakers preparing to return to Trenton this month, casino workers and advocates for smokefree casinos are making clear that no worker should be subjected to breathing secondhand smoke. A2151 and S264, bills to close the casino smoking loophole and get rid of smoking inside Atlantic City casinos have earned extraordinary bipartisan support in both chambers of the state house. The legislation is cosponsored by more than half of the legislature, including the entire Atlantic City delegation, a majority of the Assembly and Senate health committees, and a majority of South Jersey Assembly Democrats. 

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/.