Casino Smoking Debate Heats Up in Atlantic City
Major parties involved in the casino smoking debate in Atlantic City are now throwing punches as the argument heats up.
For quite some time, there has been an ongoing debate in Atlantic City involving smoking inside casinos. Basically, the debate boils down to employee health and casino revenues. Employees want a healthier environment free of smoke while the casinos fear removing smoking altogether will cut down on their revenues and result in job losses. The back and forth has heated up over the past few weeks and its getting a bit ugly between those involved.
Hard Rock President Speaks Out
Joe Lupo has two roles in the casino industry: the Hard Rock Atlantic City president and the leader of the Casino Association of New Jersey. The group is a representative of the nine casinos operating in Atlantic City and Lupo has strong feelings about the smoking ban.
The casinos feel that it is not the right time to cut smoking as the land-based casinos are still trying to recover from COVID-19. Despite this, casino employees feel that their health should be a top priority. Lawmakers have been busy pushing casino legislation that would end the indoor air exemption that exists in Atlantic City.
A smoke-free law was passed in New Jersey back in 2006. The bill required all indoor smoking to be done away with except in casinos. This little stipulation may change if recent bills are able to gain any headway.
This week, the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City hosted a luncheon where Lupo was a guest speaker. The luncheon focused on the challenges and opportunities within the casino gaming industry of Atlantic City.
During the event, Lupo talked about several issues including the debate on smoking. He said that at least one casino would close if smoking was banned. He spoke out about the protest that took place last year when Governor Phil Murphy ended the COVID-19 indoor smoking ban at casinos.
He said the issue is tough but does not believe that 30 people who took to the Boardwalk to protest represent the 21,000 employees within the city’s casinos. Lupo also said that most of the Hard Rock employees do not work in areas where smoking is allowed. He also stated that the smoking area of the casino is around 30,000 square feet in size, a small portion of the property which totals four million square feet.
Don’t Dismiss Our Concerns
The Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects group were not happy with Lupo, essentially feeling like he dismissed the protest that was held last summer and the feelings of employees. The group’s co-founder Pete Naccarelli stated that Lupo should not be mocking the employees that want a safe working environment.
Whether it is the small group of 30 or thousands of individuals that are part of the group, they deserve to be respected and voice their opinion on health and safety measures within casinos.
Naccarelli went on to say that Lupo owes the employees an apology for his words as they try to stand up for what they believe in. He stated further that Lupo is leading the fight to force employees to breath secondhand smoke on the job and employ scare tactics among the work force.
The Casino Association of New Jersey decided to take action by commissioning a study to see what the industry would look like without smoking. The findings of the study were released this week showing that a ban would see around 2,500 jobs lost and gross gaming revenues dropping by around 11% within a year.