Casino bosses vs. their employees on smoking ban


Northeastern United States casinos are facing a number of difficulties as they prepare to adjust to new rivals in New York City.

Challenges highlighted during a major casino conference in Atlantic City included the possibility of a smoking ban, the ongoing discussion about whether internet gambling benefits or damages real casinos, and the loss of income to illicit online operations. Speakers at the East Coast Gaming Congress at the Hard Rock casino talked about the industry's unrest, especially as it gets ready for the arrival of three casinos in “downstate” (southern) New York, which are predicted to completely change the local gambling market.

Before granting licenses, New York is now selecting casino locations and getting ready to answer hundreds of inquiries from prospective casino operators. The president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and Resorts casino in Atlantic City, Mark Giannantonio, stated that his city had "a two-year window" to get ready for the new competition from its northern neighbor.

He declared, "We see New York gaming in general clearly as a threat," anticipating more rivalry for visitors from the area and other nations who would decide to come to New York and bet. He added that rival casinos in eastern Pennsylvania and Connecticut will be troubled by those in New York.

Giannantonio stated that in order to take on the challenge of fresh competition, Atlantic City must enhance its infrastructure, sanitation, and public safety. “Casinos can only do so much,” he said. “We provide the jobs, the capital. Let's match the streets with the beautiful aspects of the ocean. Let's take care of our homeless population once and for all. There needs to be an investment and programs that will take a homeless person from the streets or under the Boardwalk and get them the help they need.”

Casino employees in Atlantic City are pushing hard to ban smoking on the gaming floor. They've been pressuring legislators to enact legislation outlawing smoking, and they recently launched a lawsuit to nullify a state statute exempting the casinos in Atlantic City from the state's interior clean air regulations.

Ironically, a smoking ban is one of the biggest risks facing his company at the moment, according to Giannantonio. He estimated that it would result in millions of dollars lost in state tax income and the loss of up to 2,500 casino jobs. He is in favor of a compromise plan that would keep smoking away from blackjack and other table games and other specified locations.

Employees at casinos deny those allegations, arguing that by drawing in nonsmoking patrons who were previously avoiding them, the casinos will make more money. “Casino executives keep making the same discredited claims and are promoting a false compromise that will only continue to force us, their own employees, to breathe toxic air at our jobs every day," said a Borgata dealer and a leader of the employee non-smoking movement. “They don’t give a damn about the cancer and heart disease and stroke and COPD and countless other diseases that result from this unacceptable work environment that (any) other New Jersey worker doesn’t have to face.”

Online gambling, according to Giannantonio, has benefited Atlantic City's land-based casinos. Resorts has a thriving online division that is connected to the sportsbook DraftKings. However, an official of Cordish Gaming Group and the Live! casinos, which have locations in Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, asserted that online casino gaming has hurt traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

Others in the industry contradict his position, claiming that internet gambling has helped their land-based casino enterprises. According to Giannantonio, it has been beneficial for New Jersey. He claimed that Resorts has effectively merged its online and physical client loyalty programs.

Another threat to the casino sector brought up by the panelists was the presence of unlicensed and unregulated land-based slot machines, as well as illicit offshore gambling sites.


“New York competition, smoking, internet betting concerns roil US northeast's gambling market” , Wayne Parry,, April 18, 2024.


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