December 3, 2020 Casino, Legal, Land-Based

Anti-smoking advocates tell AGA no Covid-19 relief unless casinos go smokefree

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Anti-smoking group Americans For Nonsmokers’ Rights penned a letter to American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller asking to withhold Covid-19 relief funds unless casino operators adhere to smokefree policies.

ANR President and CEO Cynthia Hallett wrote Miller a day before the AGA holds its semi-annual board of directors meeting. ANR also sent the letter to members of the Congressional Gaming Caucus.

“While the gaming industry is just as deserving of taxpayer dollars as other industries hit hard by the pandemic, we take issue with casinos potentially receiving such relief funding that is necessitated by a pandemic involving respiratory issues while still permitting an activity -- indoor smoking -- that promotes the spread of COVID-19,” the letter says.

The Berkeley, Ca. based group says that 84% of casino employees breathe in secondhand smoke on the job. That smoke, according to the ANR, blows “potentially hazardous droplets into shared air for fellow guests and gaming employees to breathe in, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19 amongst other health risks.”

The letter cites advantages to instituting smoke-free policies, including year-on-year revenue growth at Maryland and Ohio casinos, where indoor smoking is banned.

Park MGM became the first smokefree casino on the Las Vegas Strip when it reopened in September. The ANR Foundation counts at least 964 US casinos and gaming properties with 100% smoke free indoor air policies.

The letter says, “Going smokefree is an unprecedented marketing opportunity, one that each property should be clamoring to take advantage of to send the message to restless potential casino visitors that they can find a relatively safe entertainment experience at their property.”

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