Just say no to smoking in PA casinos?
This year, lawmakers have introduced bills in both chambers that would end the exemption for casinos — among other public buildings — that allows for smoking indoors. The bills are:
Neither bill has seen much activity yet. They would alter the 2008 Clean Indoor Air Act to prevent smoking in more places — casinos included.
Most PA casinos have smoking and non-smoking areas of the gaming floor. But for some, that doesn’t go far enough.
What will PA casinos have to say about this?
The bills will likely face some pushback if they start advancing, if not from the private establishments that allow smoking, then from the well-funded tobacco industry lobby.
Casinos have historically fought against banning smoking, as they argue it would hurt their bottom line too much. But at least one casino — Rivers in Pittsburgh — is at least not publicly blasting the proposals.
In an emailed response to a request for comment, Rivers Casino didn’t take sides, instead stating its commitment “to providing a comfortable atmosphere for all our guests.”
“Currently, Rivers Casino features dedicated smoking and nonsmoking areas of our gaming floor; all restaurants on property are nonsmoking. Decisions about smoking in Pennsylvania’s casinos are made by the State Legislature, and Rivers will, of course, comply with whatever the Commonwealth mandates.”
The Meadows Casino in North Strabane, Washington County, did not respond.
PA lawmakers may be wary of something that could dent casinos’ bottom line in the face of dropping slot machine revenue.
Changes coming to gaming in PA, smoking or no
Even if smoking stays in PA casinos, it appears likely other changes are on the way.
The Senate passed a large gaming bill last week that would impact casinos in a number of ways. The biggest impact, by far, would be the authorization of online gambling.
That bill still faces an uncertain future, and the House is likely to make changes. But casinos in PA are likely to evolve, even if the smoking exemption persists.