Smoking has long been a staple of indoor casino gaming. When you think of a gambling hall, images of red velvet and thick cigar fumes often come to mind. However, casino employees in New Jersey are looking to bring this era to an end.
New Jersey Smoking Ban Catches Fire
S264, a prospective gambling law, aims to amend the state’s Smoke-Free Air Act to eliminate the casino smoking exception. The bill has backing from 15 sponsors, most of whom are Senate Democrats.
Even so, the measure hasn’t gotten any action since it was first introduced.
The Garden State currently allows casino operators to reserve 20% of its gambling floor for players who smoke. But employees have decried the rule, claiming that they are unwillingly at risk for health complications.
On Tuesday, a group of about 250 employees organized in a local park to protest the indoor smoking rule. Challengers of the measure spoke out, citing countless deaths and instances of illness as reasoning to repeal the casino loophole.
Senate Slow To Act, Employees Protest
Nicole Vilota, a casino dealer and vocal proponent of the smoking ban told reporters the following:
“It’s been 16 years of cancer diagnoses, 16 years of watching our beloved co-workers die…We keep hearing, ‘Now is not the time.’ When is it going to be the right time to care about us?”
This comes during a period of reconstruction where casinos all over the country are working tirelessly to return to pre-COVID profitability. Most of the New Jersey 18+ casinos have already cut down tremendously on staff and are at risk of shuttering their doors.
The Casino Association of New Jersey recently published a report stating that a ban on casino smoking could result in even more layoffs and corporate losses.
18+ Casino Union Pushes Back
A local union is also pushing back against the anti-smoking bill. In a letter to the Senate President, Bob McDevitt of Unite Here writes,
“While we want to ensure that our members work in a safe work environment, banning smoking in New Jersey casinos would mean lost jobs for our union and throughout the state, and lost tax revenues and less money for senior programs,”
It does not seem like the smoking ban has garnered enough support to pass. Legislators are reviewing other pressing issues at the moment. It would be unwise to make any drastic or unfavorable moves ahead of the 2022 Midterm Elections.
Nonetheless, casino workers can assert their leverage and go on strike if their requests aren’t met.
Fortunately for 18+ players, there are other options for gambling if the situation should become that dire. The most trusted online casinos for 18+ players are available all across the US.
There’s no need to worry about a smoking ban when gambling from your own home!
But that’s just something to consider.
Source: ABC News