New Jersey Casinos Betting on Smokers

Image Credit: iStock, Welcomia

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Casinos have for years been one of the last bastions for the smoker. Long gone are the days when lighting up in an elevator, on an airplane, at a restaurant, or even in a bar was tolerated, let alone legal.

But one holy temple has remained for smokers to get their nicotine fix indoors: New Jersey casinos. And Atlantic City is happy to oblige. According to a report released Monday, smokers at casinos burn cash quicker than a pack of Marlboro Reds.

Smoke ’Em If Ya Got ’Em

Slot jockeys are still allowed to light up on 25% of the gambling floors in New Jersey, but Governor Phil Murphy has promised to sign a bill to ban smoking inside Atlantic City’s famed casinos if one comes to his desk.

That sent the Casino Association of New Jersey into a tizzy, so much so that it commissioned a report by the Spectrum Gaming Group essentially asking the legislature to butt out:

  • Smokers represent 21% of Atlantic City gamblers, and — according to the report — tend to lose more money than non-smokers while also spending a whopping $93 million a year on non-gambling purchases.
  • Banning smoking on the floor could result in an 11% drop in revenue, costing between 1,000 and 2,500 casino jobs within the first year alone.

Pipe Dreams: But not everyone within casino walls shares the same view. A group of Atlantic City casino workers worried about the dangers of second-hand smoke has teamed with national non-smoking groups to push New Jersey to close the smoking loophole, and a new bipartisan bill to do just that is now moving through the legislature after one died there last year.

Been There, Smoked That: Atlantic City Council temporarily banned smoking in 2008, but less than two weeks later voted to restore it after casino winnings declined by 19.5% during the first week of the ban. Must be something in the air.