Gambling Legislation

New Jersey casino smoking ban still on the table

New Jersey casino smoking ban still on the table

The legislative push to make all Atlantic City casinos smoke-free continues

Casinos in Atlantic City have been exempt from a statewide ban prohibiting smoking within public areas across the state for almost 20 years. The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act exemption allowed casino operators to permit indoor smoking for up to 25% of their gaming floors.

Atlantic City’s casinos temporarily banned indoor smoking during the pandemic, which was reinstated. Operators in Atlantic City continue to fear the possible negative impact of such a measure, which could close the existing loophole in the legislation.

Senate Bill 264 (SB 264) is one of the proposals being pushed to eliminate the smoking ban exemption that applies to casinos and simulcasting installations. The bill is primarily sponsored by Shirley Turner and Joseph Vitale and co-sponsored by twelve other lawmakers.

The bill is enjoying bipartisan support after recently being heard by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. Backers hope it will gain further support before the end of the legislative session in January.

The bill is also endorsed by Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE), a group that opposes smoking inside casinos. It and other groups opposed to a smoking ban persist in arguing that it could result in substantial revenue loss for casino operators and may spark them to reduce employee numbers.

Unite Here previously argued that a smoking ban could have a major impact on Atlantic City casinos, saying that implementing the ban may reduce gross gaming revenue by 11%. However, supporters argued that it wouldn’t impact the local casino industry much, citing that the temporary ban imposed during the pandemic didn’t affect the sector.

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