Pennsylvania Casinos See High Revenues Despite Smoking Ban
Parx Casino and Mount Airy see casino revenue increase despite continual indoor smoking ban.
The fight involving smoking in casinos continues across the United States. In several regions, like Atlantic City, smoking still takes place indoors. Anti-smoking groups have ramped up their efforts to see smoking banned indoors due to the fact that casinos were smoke free for many months due to the threat of COVID-19. Advocates for non-smoking casinos say that the venues can still function and earn revenues, even if smoking is not allowed. Two casinos in Pennsylvania, Parx and Mount Airy, are proof that a no smoking ban indoors is not an issue when it comes to earnings.
Extending Smoking Ban
Both the Parx Casino and Mount Airy decided to extend their smoking bans that were imposed with the onset of COVID-19. Parx has built a patio near the casino floor outdoors so that players can easily step outside to have a smoke.
Parx chief marketing officer Marc Oppenheimer stated that even though smoking returned to casinos in the state legally in June, the venue decided to avoid allowing smoking inside. Officials made the decision for the comfort and health of both patrons and employees. Both groups have been positive about the change and the casino has continued to see a strong performance with revenue totals.
Mount Airy has done something similar, offering two smoking areas, one is near the porte cochere and the other near the self-parking entrance. The casino also feels that team member and guest health and well-being are of the utmost importance.
Both casinos have seen an uptick in revenues despite the continual ban. This contradicts the argument that most proponents for smoking have that if smoking were banned fully indoors, it would lead to a revenue loss. This year, Mount Airy and Parx have earned more in the first nine months than they did in the same time frame in 2019, pre-COVID.
Parx earned over $464 million through September and Mount Airy brought in $141 million. Both were considerably over the 2019 totals.
Navajo Nation Bans Smoking
In Arizona, efforts are being made to stop smoking as well in the gaming industry. The Navajo Nation just announced that indoor smoking will be banned in many locations of the tribe, including casinos. In a statement, Jonathan Nez, the Navajo Nation President, stated that it is a fundamental right to promote healthy living among tribal members and protect the right to breathe clean air.
A bill was approved by lawmakers in October that bans the use of chewing tobacco, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and other similar products within workplaces and public buildings. There also must be a 25-foot buffer outdoors when smoking.
This new ban does not apply to the ceremonial use of tobacco in the home, unless the property has another use such as a business office or day care. This change comes 13 years after a coalition first began trying to educate the public on the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Will the bans in Pennsylvania and Arizona lead other states or gaming operators to put similar bans in place? It seems the momentum is pushing towards a smoking ban and we might see others follow suit or at least put more restrictions in place to eliminate smoking in certain areas of casinos if not altogether.
It will not be surprising to see opponents of smoking using these recent changes and reports to help push their cause. Only time will tell if this momentum will continue or if casinos will still be the last hold-outs when it comes to smoking.