MGM Grand Detroit Ends Smoking Ban, Allows Smoking in Designated Areas

  • Smoking is permitted in areas called “Smoking Slots East and Smoking Slots West”
  • Lighting up on the casino floor is still off-limits
  • An anti-smoking group says employees must “choose between their health and a paycheck”
  • Casinos banned smoking in during the pandemic and many have kept it forbidden
MGM Grand Detroit
Patrons of the MGM Grand Detroit can now smoke in designated areas on the property. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Still not allowed on casino floor

MGM Grand Detroit has lifted its ban on indoor smoking, permitting patrons to light up in designated areas of the property. The casino announced the new policy on Wednesday, effective immediately.

Visitors are still not allowed to spark up a lung dart on the casino floor. The only two indoor areas in which smoking is permitted are labeled “Smoking Slots East and Smoking Slots West.” The casino has installed doors on the two sections of the property to try to minimize smoke drift to adjacent areas. An outdoor smoking patio remains.

originally banned smoking on casino floors in 2020

The Michigan Gaming Control Board originally banned smoking on casino floors in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as smokers would have to remove their masks to smoke.

Hollywood Casino at Greektown has also reinstated smoking, but is restricting it to the second floor. MotorCity Casino, Detroit’s other gambling venue, still bans the activity.

Anti-smoking group hates it

Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, is not happy about the policy change, as one might expect. In a statement, she said that it was the “equivalent of coal in their stockings this week” for employees at the casinos.

“After more than two years of a safe workplace, these workers will now have to choose between their health and a paycheck,” Hallett continued. “This is unacceptable. Efforts to try to separate smoking and non-smoking sections, such as adding doors, have repeatedly proven ineffective at protecting employees and guests from dangerous secondhand smoke.”

Though gambling and smoking have historically been closely associated with one another, according to a June 2022 report by C3 Gaming, non-smoking casinos now tend to outperform those that permit smoking.

“Even though only 12% of people in the United States smoke, some casinos continue to prioritize perceived profits from this dwindling group over the health of their workers,” Hallett added.

Pandemic brought attention to smoking in casinos

The subject of smoking in casinos has garnered more attention during the pandemic. When state governments and regulators put bans in place as casinos began to reopen around the country in 2020, many casinos found that they could get by just fine not allowing smoking.

if they want to work, they have to spend hours unable to avoid second-hand smoke

Twenty states already ban smoking in casinos, while in those that don’t, many major casino operators have kept smoking bans in place. The epicenter of the smoking debate is New Jersey, where legislation has been introduced in the past year to prohibit the practice in gambling venues. Atlantic City casino workers have staged protests, urging casinos and lawmakers to protect their health, particularly because if they want to work, they have to spend hours unable to avoid second-hand smoke.

Casino workers in Rhode Island have also called upon lawmakers to ban smoking in casinos. Members of the Pennsylvania legislature have proposed changes to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act that would remove exemptions for casinos that currently allow them to skirt restrictions on smoking in public areas.