New Study Shows Vegas Casinos May Ban Smoking

In a recent study, close to three-quarters of respondents voted that they would prefer being on casino floors if smoking while gambling were disallowed. The survey was conducted online and informally via a local publication, the Las Vegas Advisor. In total, more than 1,500 respondents voted, with 23% of voters indicating that they would prefer if smoking was banned inside casinos. Responses ranged from suggestions of allocated smoking and non-smoking sections to an overall blanket ban.

A pile of cigarettes on a table, overlaid with a red, crossed circle.

The votes are in as a majority of polled readers of a Las Vegas publication said they would prefer smoking to be banned in Vegas casinos. ©27707/Pixabay

During COVID-19, Smoking Curbed In Vegas Casinos

In June of this year, multiple casinos on Las Vegas’s famous strip announced their respective plans to reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 170,000 lives in the United States. In addition to reduced capacity of visitors and increased hygienic measures, more than one casino opted to change their smoking rules.

Already, Smoking Inside Is Going Out of Vogue in America

Traditionally, smoking is allowed on Las Vegas’s casino floors. For the United States, this makes it somewhat of an anomaly: over the past several decades, indoor smoking has been widely regulated against in the US. Today, the majority of America’s 50 states have outright bans on smoking inside, including workplaces, bars, and restaurants.

In Las Vegas, however, being able to smoke on the casino floors just adds to the Sin City element the world-famous gambling capital prides itself on. When customers are able to smoke inside, there’s less of an incentive to leave the tantalizing casino floor. Still, as Las Vegas has worked to become more family-friendly over the years, this is a detraction.

The Shifting Smoking Rules During COVID

The coronavirus has hit Las Vegas hard. As a city typically known for seducing visitors from around the world for gambling, as well as five-star live entertainment, high-quality dine-in cuisine, and offering space to global conventions, global lockdowns and endless cancellations meant tremendous lost revenue.

As the pandemic forced lockdowns around the US, devastating tourism and local economies, the mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, urged local officials to allow casinos to reopen with limitations as early as April. Still, many casinos in Las Vegas did not see anything resembling normal business until this summer.

In June, representatives from casinos including MGM, Sahara Las Vegas, the Venetian, Palazzo, and Wynn Resorts referenced new smoking policies that their casinos would implement during the COVID-19 pandemic. These ranged from encouraging smokers to wear masks when not actively smoking, or leaving a game if smoking was necessary.

No casinos referenced the ban proposed by this recent study, though some new rules certainly do curtail the comfort and facility of smoking inside Vegas casinos. At least one casino, including MGM, has certain areas of the casino floor designated for smokers and non-smokers, much like in hotel rooms.

The New Study: People Have Spoken

In the last week, local publication the Las Vegas Advisor published a poll for its readers, asking if they would prefer for smoking to be banned inside casinos. In fact, the poll did not specifically say Las Vegas casinos — rather, the poll broadly asked its readers to vote on whether or not they think US casinos should allow smoking at all.

As of August 25, 1,523 readers of the Las Vegas Advisor participated in its online poll, which provided 13 different choices in answer to its smoking question, which was phrased as: “Should smoking be prohibited in casinos around the country where it’s still permitted?”

Voters were allowed to pick only one of the thirteen options, which included choices from the lenient (smoking should be allowed; I don’t smoke but smoking in casinos is okay with me) to the stringent (I will stop going to casinos unless they have banned smoking; the legality of smoking in casinos is my main purpose for visiting Las Vegas).

Ultimately, the winning choice garnered 23% of the vote, or 353 votes. This choice spelled out that smoking bans have been upheld across establishments in Las Vegas, but has managed to skirt under the line of legality in the realm of casinos. According to these voters, then, casinos should not be exempt from Las Vegas’s smoking bans.

The next most popular choice received 296 votes, or 19% of total respondents. This choice also pointed to visitors believing that smoking should be outlawed in casinos — however, there was also a pessimistic caveat that, though they believe that is what should be done, they do not believe casinos will make this step.

According to these 296 respondents, casino owners could be too afraid of further money lost from gamblers who are dissuaded by a lack of ability to smoke on casino floors, and would not, then, pursue an option to ban smoking inside. No reference in this online poll was made to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Smoking Inside Casinos and COVID-19

A study conducted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal this spring found that a couple of contributing factors determined why smoking inside casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic deserves a closer look, particularly in light of casinos’ work to make their locations more safe for employees and guests.

This report mentioned first that smokers need to lower their masks in order to smoke. By lowering their masks, they are both susceptible to inhaling viral particles or spreading viral particles, especially if they cough. Smokers, or those with sensitivities to smoke who are near smokers, are more likely to cough, also a risk for spreading the virus.

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