Gambling Legislation

Pennsylvania casino workers support smoking ban legislation

Pennsylvania casino workers support smoking ban legislation

A bill to prohibit smoking in Pennsylvania casinos is advancing quickly

Lawmakers in Harrisburg heard testimony from Pennsylvania casino workers on Wednesday, who say that continuing to allow indoor smoking on designated parts of the casino floors is endangering their health.

State Rep. Dan Frankel introduced another bill to end the casinos’ exemption from the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act this week. The current law permits casinos to establish as much as half of their gaming floor space to allow indoor smoking.

Exceptions are provided within the Clean Air Act for bars where alcohol generates the most revenue, private clubs, cigar lounges and fraternal clubs, such as the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars).

Frankel also chairs the Pennsylvania House Health Committee, which worked with health officials to invite casino workers to testify before the committee in the debate over House Bill 1657.

Jen Rubolino, a table games dealer at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, testified that “Smoke-free casinos are not just a breath of fresh air for us workers, but they’re proving to be winners for the industry,” referring to Parx Casino remaining smoke-free after COVID-19 pandemic.

Parx generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $393.8 million last year from slot machines and $204.8 million from table games. Its combined income was about $598.6 million in GGR in 2022, beating the Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem by almost $83 million.

“We have seen the evidence firsthand. Parx is leading the charge with smoke-free venues and industry-leading profits,” said Rubolino.

Casino industry representatives failed to appear before the House Health Committee during Wednesday’s session.

The House Health Committee held no vote on the anti-smoking bill. Frankel said the Health Committee’s responsibility is to “protect the health of Pennsylvanians.” The next meeting of the committee will be on September 27.

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