Say “NO” to No Smoking

Posted on: February 28, 2011

Yes I know, I’ve probably already caught some negative attention for making such a bold claim. By now, the majority of people in the US at least have jumped right on the “NO SMOKING” bandwagon. Restaurants are non-smoking, in fact, you can’t even smoke within a certain number of feet within the entrance. I can remember a time when the Reno airport had indoor smoking areas…yes, that means you didn’t have to take a 10 mile hike outside to smoke and then make your way back through the ever-pleasant experience that is airport security. I should also note at this time that I am not now, nor have I ever been a smoker.

Smoking in casinos has been a hot topic for several years now. Casinos are one of the only places left in America in which you can still smoke inside. For the most part, casinos have removed active smoking from restaurants, but you can still smoke almost everywhere else. A new study by the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance was released just days ago and claimed that 63% of Iowans surveyed want smoking banned on the casino floor of neighboring states. I’m sure the stats are similar in most jurisdictions.

So, let me get back to my point. Saying “NO” to no-smoking. Casino operators are fighting smoking bans ferociously. Casinos feel that by banning smoking, they will lose business. And they likely will. Of the gamblers that smoke, many will sit at a table or machine for hours on end, continuously dropping dollars into the machine and chain smoking like a fiend. Consider a smoking ban. Those smokers would now have to leave their machine, which means cashing out and potentially leaving a “hot” machine, and going outside – possibly into the freezing cold weather – to smoke. Well, if that was me, I would probably just head out to my car and head home. That takes my gaming time down from potentially 5-10 hours in some cases to probably around 2 hours. That is a lot of money to be losing.

The casino industry, being in a state of panic due to the current economic conditions, is not in any hurry to lose business, as minimal as it might be. In 2006, the University of Nevada Reno conducted a study showed that the threat of loss of business from smoking bans might not be as extreme as was originally thought. The study showed that 4 out of 5 gamblers are NON-SMOKERS. The original number of gamblers who were thought to be smokers was 70%! That is quite a difference.

So, should casinos now reconsider their activism against smoking bans? It might be time to study the positive effects of smoking bans for the 80% of people who are non-smokers. They were more than willing to advocate for the 70% of customers they thought were smokers, so it only makes sense to look at it from a new perspective. Right?


4 Responses to "Say “NO” to No Smoking"

I am not necessarily against casinos becoming completely non-smoking, but I am against using public legislation to accomplish it. I believe that the change from smoking to non-smoking should be one left to the free market. Don’t get me wrong, I am usually a hard-core socialist, but I feel that imposing a law such as the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA) is infringing on a business owners right to run an establishment as he/she sees fit.

In high-school, I interned for the non-profit Partnership of Community Resources in my hometown of Minden, NV. The Partnership facilitated a program called “Clean Cuisine.” This program gave advertising incentives to local restauranteurs if they voluntarily banned smoking in their establishments. It also encouraged the local community to boycott local business that allowed smoking. This program gave a venue for community members to express their true desires in the free market and, should enough people feel it was needed, change the community to non-smoking.

The “Clean Cuisine” program failed horribly.

The reason was obvious. There were not enough people in the community that wanted local business’ to become non-smoking establishments. It was proof positive that it was not the actual will of the majority, but rather the wish of the few.

The same thing is true of Reno. I believe that if enough people felt that smoking in casinos was an issue, it would have shown in the tills long ago. The fact is, when people visit a casino in Reno, it is to drink, smoke and gamble. This is the allure of the city; it always has been. The legislature should lift the NCIAA and see if allowing smoking in nevada business’ hurts or helps the local economy. If people still continue to patronize the business’ that allow smoking then we will have a clean an honest depiction of the will of the people.

Thanks for the comments David! I appreciate the feedback and opinions very much!

I agree with you Erin, I am not a smoker either, but I think a smoking ban inside of casinos takes it a little far… I’m all for lung health, but if you don’t like a place that allows smoking, don’t go there, it’s as easy as that… I also disagree with the statistics quoted by the UNR study and that it won’t be as bad as we think. I think it’s important to look at each location individually. In Vegas at a high limit area in the bellagio, the smoking % might be quite low, but at a locals casino in Sparks Nevada, I think we all agree that % is certainly higher than 1 out of 5. So a smoking ban is going to hit the local casino’s more than it will hit the mega-resorts, and with the industry already struggling, any hit to margins will continue to stall industry recovery from the recession.

Also, why is the Iowa study surveying the general public? Because they want to show the statistics a certian way. They should be surveying those that frequent casinos! The numbers will certainly be much different if they did.

Casino’s have created “smoking free areas” to test these theories and they did not see any increase in RPU (revenue per unit) in those areas. I wish I could find that study, too bad I wasn’t on Diigo then! haha

Great post! 🙂

Thanks for the thoughtful response! Iowa is an interesting case study at this time in regards to smoking policies in casinos. They recently outlawed smoking and the revenues are telling the tale!

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This blog is devoted to the gaming industry news and information - keeping you up to date on the happenings in the gaming world. My personal expertise lies in event planning and entertainment in casinos.

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