Nearly 100 people held a protest outside of Atlantic City’s Hard Rock casino after a scheduled panel discussion to address a possible casino-wide smoking ban was canceled.
The East Coast Gaming Congress had scheduled the discussion for this week, but the event was canceled after Resorts Casino President Mark Giannantonio withdrew from the conference.
Giannantonio recently took a position with the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) as its president.
Many casino workers have been urging lawmakers to ban smoking in their workplaces for the past two years. A group of Atlantic City dealers has been advocating for legislators to reinstate the ban.
A temporary smoking ban had been in place due to the pandemic but was lifted in July 2021, and the casinos returned to the status quo of allowing smoking on 20% of the casino floor.
An initiative for the ban currently has the support of more than half of New Jersey’s lawmakers, as well as the support of Governor Phil Murphy.
CANJ has opposed a statewide casino smoking ban, claiming the prohibition would have a negative impact on business, costing both jobs and revenue. It recently released a report that predicted job loss as an outcome of a smoking ban.
Borgata dealer Peter Naccarelli said the association does not have a leg to stand on regarding its reasons for opposing a smoking ban. He commented: “The CANJ is running and hiding right now. They have no logical arguments.”
Naccarelli currently leads the group of casino workers who are in favor of the ban.
Lamont White, who also works at Borgata as a dealer, agreed with Naccarelli. He stressed the importance of protecting casino workers’ lives. He paraphrased the opposing side’s argument by saying: “We’d lose money, and money is more important than casino workers’ lives."