Posted on: August 12, 2022, 12:49 PM.
Last updated on: August 12, 2022, 1:21 AM.
Atlantic City casino workers who support smoking cessation at the nine gambling resorts hope a change of leadership at the Casino Association of New Jersey will benefit them.
Anti-casino smoking advocates will gather in Atlantic City in April, with Ocean Casino Resort towering in the background. Many Atlantic City casino workers say their workplaces must be completely free of air contaminated by tobacco smoke. (Image: AP)
Resorts Casino Hotel CEO Mark Giannantonio was named president of the CANJ this week. The association is the lobby group that represents the interests of Atlantic City casinos in New Jersey’s capital, Trenton.
Giannantonio replaced the outgoing CEO of Hard Rock Atlantic City, Joe Lupo. Lupo spoke out in defense of casinos that allow smoking indoors on up to 25% of their gaming space. But resort workers who join Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), the nonprofit leading the fight against smoking against casinos in Atlantic City, hope Giannantonio is more receptive to their regulatory campaign.
It was astonishing to see how much effort CANJ has gone to to ignore our health, even when the facts do not support claims about the economic impact,” a CEASE letter to Giannantonio stated this week.
“We want casinos in Atlantic City to thrive. We also want to be there for our children and grandchildren for many years to come. We fear that continuing to operate in a smoke-filled environment will put that at risk,” continues the CEASE letter, signed by the organization’s three co-founders, Nicole Vitola, Pete Naccarelli and Lamont White.
Industry Claims Denied
The nine casinos say a complete ban on smoking on their gaming floors would put the properties at a competitive disadvantage. Casinos in nearby Philadelphia allow smoking in certain areas. The gambling industry in Atlantic City states that it is already difficult to attract gamblers to the New Jersey coast outside of the summer months. Removing an important part of their activities – smoking indoors – would only make matters worse.
The CANJ has commissioned a study into the consequences of a smoke-free mandate for businesses. Spectrum Gaming Group concluded that an indoor smoking ban would reduce annual gross gaming revenue of 11% in the first 12 months after implementation. That, the review argued, would lead to as many as 2,500 job losses.
The casinos, as well as the gaming union that represents about 10,000 resort employees, are behind those conclusions. They reason that the study provides factual evidence as to why a smoking ban in Trenton should not be considered at this time. To force the state to make casinos completely smoke-free, the New Jersey legislature would have to change its Smoke-Free Air Act. It passed that bill in 2006, which includes a provision that allows smoking in casinos.
CEASE says the Spectrum study, which was funded by the Atlantic City casino industry, came to unwarranted conclusions just to please the customer.
“A truly independent study conducted by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming, released in June, found that COVID-19 has changed customer behavior and that smoke-free casinos have outperformed their smoking counterparts financially,” the CEASE said. letter. The C3 review was not carried out on behalf of CEASE.
Call to action
Lupo tried to discredit the CEASE campaign. Speaking to the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City in February, Lupo said a few anti-smoking casino workers petitioning along the Boardwalk may not be fully representative of the gaming workforce as a whole.
I don’t believe 30 people walking the Boardwalk represents the 21,000 employees who work in the casinos,” Lupo said of a previous CEASE event.
CEASE now claims to have “thousands of casino dealers” and other resort employees supporting its smoke-free mission. The group would like to add Giannantonio to the list of supporters.
“At the beginning of your tenure as CANJ’s leader, we urge you to reject the normal course of business and instead take this opportunity to stand up for what is right,” concluded the letter.
This post Atlantic City casino workers urge industry to support smoking cessation
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