Casinos that allow smoking put more than your money on the table
It’s bad enough when you belly-up to a blackjack table that you’re statistically likely to walk away with less cash than when you sat down. Worse is that, all the while you watch those chips disappear into the dealer’s tray, every breath may be putting your health at risk.
In short, casinos that permit smoking mean you gamble your well-being with every visit.
Most U.S. casinos permit smoking in all areas. From a business perspective, one of the last things they want are players having to step outside every half hour or so for a cigarette. Pit bosses want those addicts to stay put, light ‘em up and continue wagering.
The anti-smoking momentum that has found teeth in legislation, voluntary bans and bureaucratic fiat may finally be catching up with the gaming world. Recently, an acquaintance who is a free-lance editor for a magazine that covers casino gambling returned from Las Vegas. He reported that outside the Sands, several protestors each day he was there waved signs and solicited support for a voluntary move for the property to clear out the smoke.
In addition, in Macau, China, casino operators are roiling from a city-wide smoking ban, and fears are that the butt-free zones will discourage gamers from coming at all or dramatically curtail their play time. If so, the economics will happen on a large scale. According to a story at travelweekly.com, Macau produced $45.2 billion in gaming revenue in 2013, four times that of Nevada’s casino industry, which hit $11 billion in 2013.
The fear apparently is justified. In her story, JoAnna Haugen cites data that Delaware’s gaming revenue decreased 11.3 percent following a smoking ban in 2002, while Illinois saw a 20.9 percent drop after implementing a ban in 2008.
Of the 23 states with commercial casinos, 18 have already outlawed smoking in casinos.
But the thing for those fretting operators to remember is that prior to the enactment of smoking bans in other public venues, such as restaurants and bars, proprietors predicted doom and gloom for their industries. Granted, in the short term, revenue declined, but before rebounding to pre-ban levels.
The same likely will be true for casinos, who will learn just as other businesses did that American smokers today have come to expect bans, and know they’ll have to adjust their behavior accordingly. The challenge for gambling establishments will be how to make it easier for them to indulge both their risky passions—puffing on a cigarette, and feeding the one-armed bandit.
Ken Nelson Ken Nelson is the Northwest Regional Sales Manager for the Panasonic Eco Products Division, specializing in ventilation solutions for residential and multi-family living environments. Over the past four years, Ken has spoken throughout the Northwest, teaching and training builders, building science advocates and professionals on the physics of moisture and air movement in homes of all sizes, types and age.