Atlantic City Casino Smoking Ban Could Cost up to 2,500 Jobs

  • Casino revenue could fall by almost 11% due to the introduction of a smoking ban
  • About 21% of Atlantic City gamblers are smokers and they are more profitable than non-smokers
  • Atlantic City casinos believe a smoking ban would have a hugely negative impact on the region
  • People can currently smoke in 25% of the casino floor at Atlantic City properties
Man extinguishing a cigarette in an ashtray
The introduction of a smoking ban at Atlantic City casinos might cost up to 2,500 jobs, according to a new report. [Image:]

Potential downsides

A new report claims that the introduction of a smoking ban in Atlantic City casinos could cost as many as 2,500 jobs. Spectrum Gaming Group, independent gambling research company, published the report on Wednesday. The findings also indicate that casino revenue could fall almost 11% because of a smoking ban.

about 21% of the gamblers at Atlantic City casinos are smokers

The Casino Association of New Jersey, which represents the interests of casinos in the state, commissioned the study. According to the report, about 21% of the gamblers at Atlantic City casinos are smokers. These gamblers are apparently worth more to the casinos, as they generally lose more money than non-smokers and often spend more on non-gambling goods and services.

The report estimates that 1,021 to 2,515 jobs could be in jeopardy in the first year of a ban. Using data from 2019, Spectrum believes that each job in a casino was supported by gambling revenue of $155,008.

Casinos against a ban

As part of the research, Spectrum Gaming Group interviewed casino workers, executives, and customers, and looked at other states which have bans in place on smoking in casinos. While there is a chance that certain non-smokers would be more likely to go to casinos with smoking bans, the report states that the rise would not be sufficient to offset the decline of revenue from the ban.

Atlantic City casinos have long been against the introduction of a smoking ban as they believe that it would negatively impact their revenues. This would then have a knock-on effect of lower tax revenues for the New Jersey government and potential job loss. Stakeholders believe many gamblers would take their business to nearby Pennsylvania as many casinos there permit smoking.

visitor numbers and casino employment figures are at 20-year lows

Casino Association of New Jersey and Hard Rock Atlantic City president Joe Lupo commented on the findings of the report, saying that the industry “faces some very dire issues,” explaining that visitor numbers and casino employment figures are at 20-year lows. In-person gaming revenue is also still below pre-pandemic levels. Casino executives are hoping to express their concerns to the governor this week.

Efforts to make a change

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is on record as saying he will sign a smoking ban bill into law if it gets approval. Currently, smoking is only allowed in a quarter of the available space on a casino floor. While legislation pushing for a smoking ban was unsuccessful in 2021, the proposal is back on the table for this year’s legislative session and has bipartisan support.

A smoking ban was in place in Atlantic City in 2008 for four weeks. However, casino winnings dropped almost 20% in the ban’s first week, so it was removed.

Many Atlantic City casino workers have been campaigning alongside national non-smoking groups for a ban. Smoking is not permitted in the majority of indoor spaces in the state, but a loophole allows it on 25% of a casino floor. Workers claim that they are suffering serious health issues as a result of second-hand smoke.

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