Park MGM May Be First Las Vegas Strip Casino to Ban Smoking

  • Signage at the still-closed Park MGM touts a “smoke-free” casino
  • Rumors of a possible smoking ban started in early June
  • Some Las Vegas casinos have prohibited smoking at table games during the pandemic
  • Smoking is still outlawed at all Atlantic City casinos until further notice
Park MGM casino in Las Vegas
A sign at the Park MGM casino in Las Vegas seems to foreshadow a smoking ban once the property reopens. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Signs point to yes

It appears that Park MGM Las Vegas may be going smoke-free in the near future. The property still has not reopened since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, but photos from inside the casino reveal signs that read, “Let’s Clear the Air. Park MGM is smoke-free.”

Rumors of the possible policy change at the casino formerly known as Monte Carlo began in early June, just before Nevada casinos were permitted to reopen. At that time, the Las Vegas insider blog Vital Vegas reported that Park MGM casino hosts were reaching out to the “best players” to see if they would accept a smoking ban. An MGM Resorts survey sent to loyalty club members in April also asked for thoughts on possible smoking restrictions.

It was thought that a smoking ban might just be a temporary policy because of the pandemic, but it sounds more and more like Park MGM might become the first Las Vegas Strip casino to be totally smoke-free. Vdara Hotel & Spa does not allow smoking, but it does not have a casino.

MGM Resorts International has not commented publicly on the buzz.

Could be marketing positioning tactic

Smoking and gambling have long gone hand-in-hand, so for some people, it may come as an unwelcome shock to enter a casino and be told they can’t light up. Poker rooms and most hotel rooms do not allow smoking, however, so there are areas where visitors have already been conditioned to refrain from the habit.

As UNLV Gaming Research Professor Dr David Schwartz told KSNV’s Gerard Ramalho, “I think people are used to not smoking indoors in a lot of places.”

I think people who don’t like breathing in smoke while they gamble will like it.”

“Well, I think people who like smoking while they gamble will be alienated,” he added. “I think people who don’t like breathing in smoke while they gamble will like it.”

Besides health-related reasons, going smoke-free could be a marketing tactic for MGM. Park MGM does not have the brand recognition that many other Las Vegas Strip casinos like Bellagio, Paris, Venetian, and Caesars Palace have. Though it might lose customers who want to smoke, as the only smoke-free casino on the Strip, it may stand out and draw patrons who want cleaner indoor air.

Atlantic City has temporary smoking ban

Some Las Vegas casinos have at least temporarily banned smoking at table games. Not only does it advance better health during a respiratory virus pandemic, but it prevents people from taking off their masks to smoke. Because all Nevada casinos are now required to enforce face masks at gaming tables, a smoking prohibition makes the policy easier to enforce.

Borgata delayed its reopening because of the order

While a casino going completely smokeless might be unusual, barring smoking in gambling establishments is nothing new of late. Atlantic City casinos were allowed to reopen on July 2, but earlier that week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said that indoor dining, any consumption of food and beverage, and smoking were all still off the table inside casinos.

Borgata delayed its reopening because of the order, recently announcing that it will finally open on July 26.

Though New Jersey’s COVID-19 stats have drastically improved in recent weeks, Governor Murphy decided to continue the indoor dining and smoking ban because of “non-compliance” with health and safety rules in the state.

Nevada, in the meantime, has seen its confirmed cases skyrocket lately. Before casinos reopened on June 4, the highest reported COVID-19 cases in a single day was 238. Since then, nearly every day has been higher than that, with state records set repeatedly. The worst day was June 16, when 1,437 confirmed cases were reported. The seven-day average is now over 1,100.