While the heated smoking ban debate tied to Atlantic City casinos is still pending a decision, another casino in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania decided to embrace the smoke-free policy. The said policy was originally established by state representatives during the COVID-19 pandemic for safety purposes.
While the policy currently exempts gaming floors from the ban, restaurants, offices, conference rooms, and entertainment venues located inside casinos all need to comply with it. Rivers Casino Philadelphia, the third most successful casino in the state, has now decided to voluntarily prohibit smoking on its gaming floors starting April 29.
Rivers Casino Joins Parx Casino and Mount Airy Casino
Rivers Casino Philadelphia has joined Parx Casino in Philadelphia and Mount Airy Casino located in the northeast of Pennsylvania in their decision to ban smoking on the gaming floor. State laws forbid cigar smoking in businesses open to the public and the majority of workspaces. However, casinos continue to accept smoking on up to 50% of the surface of their gaming floors.
The important decision came at a time when lawmakers are still considering a total ban on smoking for casinos in Atlantic City. Since Philadelphia is in close proximity to Atlantic City, the Casino Association of New Jersey considered that banning smoking in New Jersey would automatically force players to cross the state lines. Mentioning the health risks triggered by regular smoking and secondhand smoking, the Atlantic City organization and the United Auto Workers both lobbied for a smoking ban on casinos.
The Non-Smoking Policy Has Been Accepted by Patrons
According to a spokesperson for Rivers Casino, the cigarette smoking ban did not trigger any problems. Guests who enjoy puffing a stogie or two while spending their time at the tables are now using the outdoor patio Jack’s Ba. The operator has turned the patio into a guest-only area for smokers. The patio will remain open during the regular operating hours of the bar and it will be subject to weather conditions. Guests using the outdoor patio will not need to pass casino security in order to return to their tables inside the casino. Rivers also set up additional outdoor smoking options for patrons next to the south and north entrance doors.
Rivers Casino’s communications expert Jack Horner stated the casino will keep monitoring further feedback from guests, emphasizing that the current feedback was positive. Rivers Casino’s Pittsburgh branch is still delaying the adoption of a similar smoke-free policy as recommended by the Gaming Control Board and the commonwealth. For the time being, Rivers Casino Philadelphia will continue to prohibit smoking on the gaming floor since the ban on Mount Airy and Parx had little to no effect on revenues generated by in-person gaming activities on the gaming floors. On the contrary, instead of dropping, in-person gaming revenues went up during Q1 in 2022 compared to Q1 in 2019.
At the moment, Pennsylvania is home to 16 land casinos, with three satellite operations counting between 300 and 750 slot machines and 30 table games along with two satellite venues that opened last year.