Agua Caliente Casino allows smoking again after over three years

October 18, 2023

The decision has proved controversial with locals and patrons, and permits smoking on the casino floor, but not in other indoor areas.

Palm Springs’ Agua Caliente Casino will now permit smoking on its casino floor again after over three years of being smoke free. According to local reports, a “substantial number of requests” from its patrons led to the decision.

The Band of Cahuilla Indians owns and operates this casino, as well as two other properties in Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City, which still do not allow smoking. While cigarette smoking and vaping will both be allowed at the Palm Springs venue’s slot machines on the casino floor, there are also still rules in place against smoking in the table games space, dining areas, sports bar and Cascade Lounge.

Pipes and cigars will remain banned, as well. California’s state laws banned smoking in commercial casinos and other indoor venues in 1998, but Tribal properties may make their own decisions on the practice due to sovereignty on their land.

Recently, other properties in the Coachella Valley have reopened as smoke-free locations after the Covid-19 pandemic. In September, New Mexico’s Isleta Resort and Casino reported that 95% of its staff were happy to work in a nonsmoking workplace and that the casino previously attained bad customer reviews due to the smell of smoke.

Agua Caliente Casino visitors in the Palm Springs community have taken to Facebook to post their views on whether they support the return of smoking in the venue. One Palm Springs local, Tim Sigle, complained, saying, “It’s kind of ridiculous that they think it would bring in more players or more money, I don’t see how.

“I used to go in at least once in at least once a week… but I’d rather drive all the way out to Fantasy Springs than deal with the cigarette smoke.”

Casino employees’ and nonsmokers’s rights have also come up as part of a campaign across multiple states enacted by Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE).

Sigle also brought up employee’s rights in his criticism of reinstating smoking at Agua Caliente, adding, “Their health should matter. You’re putting them in there for their eight-hour shifts right in all that cigarette smoke. I think that’s cruel.”

The California Department of Public Health published that 6.2% of the state’s adult residents smoke in a 2022 report, while 4.3% vape.


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