Are Smoke Free Casinos Here To Stay

The following post, Are Smoke Free Casinos Here To Stay, is about the future of smoking in casinos. It is not about the personal pros and cons of smoking. But, recently, the reopening of casinos have turned many casinos into smokeless casinos. This is as controversial as saying casinos won’t serve free alcohol. MGM Springfield had to deal with this opening over two years ago.

Are Smoke-Free Casinos the “New Norm?”

Are Smoke Free Casinos Here To Stay

At this time, all New England casinos are smoke-free. All five Massachusetts and Maine gambling halls are smoke free. With the opening of Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun June 1st, and both Rhode Island casinos opening smoke free, New England betting halls are 100% smoke free. This may change in the future. But for now its unanimous.  By the way, Maine & Massachusetts properties have not reopened yet.

Related Post – Rhode Island Casinos are Reopening

Disclaimer by the Author

I have never smoked cigarettes. I’ve smoked a few cigars with friends at casinos. However, I have played music in lounges, dives, saloons, concert stages, etc. for over 50 years. In the 80’s, it was smoke everywhere. My clothes reeked of smoke after the gig. I probably inhaled a few tons of second-hand smoke as well. Luckily for myself and fellow musicians, state Clean Air Acts began banning smoking in most public places except casinos. 

For the record, I am not against smoking in the casino, nor am I for it. I’m used to it due to performing and visiting casinos. I respect anyone’s smoking enjoyment, as long as you respect my space next to you. I have personally found smokers more and more considerate these days, and so I reciprocate with a smile. After all, if you visit a casino, and play in a smoking section, you should expect second hand smoke. Gambling, smoking and drinking have a long history together. That’s the fact.

Second hand smoke, however, doesn’t stay in it’s own little space. That’s where we begin to look into recent changes made in casinos.

Why Are Smoke Free Casinos So Controversial?

Are Smoke Free Casinos Here To Stay
Oxford Casino, Oxford, ME, smoke free casino.

The history of gaming includes smoking a cigarette or cigar accompanied by an alcoholic drink. When non-smoking areas grew on casino floors, the nonsmoking areas underperformed rather dramatically. But over the years, we have understood the harm of second hand smoke. Restrictions popped up for the health and safety of the casino staff, such as not smoking at the tables, at the cashier, and the rewards desk. Clean Indoor Air Acts took care of restaurants, workplaces, and some public places.

But the chance to socialize at the local gambling hall with a group of friends, cigar in one hand and drink in the other, is now under attack – and understandably so. There are at least 783 state-regulated gambling facilities that are required to be 100% smokefree indoors. For a complete list U.S. Smokefree Casinos and Gambling Facilities click here.  In New England, Massachusetts and Maine are two of them.

COVID-19 and Smoke-free Casinos

The facts of how the coronavirus spreads makes the change to smoke free casinos more apparent. The following is taken from Fact vs. Fiction: COVID-19 by Craig Martin, a professor and associate dean at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. It parallels CDC reports:

  1. The coronavirus can spread through the air and on surfaces.
  2. The novel coronavirus COVID-19 lives on surfaces for 48-72 hours, possibly longer.

Second hand smoke doesn’t necessarily add to the breathing of COVID-19 droplets in someone’s exhale, However, without the enhanced ventilation needed for cleaning and moving of air in the casino, the chance of droplets held up by smoke is higher than the usual exhale. Also, long-term secondhand smoke exposure can damage the lungs and make you more susceptible to respiratory coronavirus complications. This all plays into additional PPE for both players and staff. Without smoking, data may batter be collected on how all the other PPE put in place – plexiglass, masks, etc, –

Are Smoke Free Casinos Here To Stay
Sneeze guards at the tables.

The Draw

Maybe it’s not the connection of COVID-19, smoking and gambling that’s the concern. According to a new study by scientists from Stanford and Tufts universities published in the journal Environmental Research, each year 50 million nonsmoking casino patrons and 400,000 nonsmoking casino workers gamble with their lives inside casinos that allow smoking. Less than 2 hours of exposure to secondhand smoke in half of the casinos surveyed is enough to impair the heart’s ability to pump blood, placing susceptible casino patrons and workers at acute risk of heart disease.

Will there be a compromise down the road, or will more casinos follow the smoke-free path as Massachusetts did. We might see results as early as September 2020. Unfortunately, we may have to wait until probably 2021 for answers.




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