In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I tackle the issue of smoking in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip:
The implicit question raised in those cheeky billboards is this: Smoking is banned in restaurants, movie theaters and indoor arenas. Why is it still permitted in Nevada casinos? The short answer: because casinos were exempted from the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, which voters approved in November 2006.
Two things I want to mention here….
1. I love the art for this column.
2. This, I think, is the most divisive issue in the gaming industry today. Casino execs get very dismissive/defensive when the topic of banning smoking on casino floors comes up. Personally, while I respect the right of people to smoke, I also think that my right to be in a public place without breathing in smoke has to rank somewhere. Doesn’t it?
I’d like to see one of the two big companies experiment with making one of their casinos smoke-free. Let’s say, Monte Carlo for MGM Resorts and Planet Hollywood for Caesars. Give it a three-month trial run at the very least: see what it does to occupancy, gaming win, overall spending. Would it work? Revel would seem to indicate no, but Revel’s problems didn’t start with not permitting smoking on the casino floor. In other states, there has been an initial revenue drop followed by a recovery. While I’m sure some people would gamble less, other people may gamble more, and I suspect that traffic at restaurants might increase as well, with non-smokers not having to run a smoky gauntlet before getting to their eatery of choice.