Hard Rock chairman warns against banning smoking in Atlantic City casinos

A group of legislators is pushing to ban smoking at Atlantic City casinos.
A group of legislators is pushing to ban smoking at Atlantic City casinos.

Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, has spoken with New Jersey governor Phil Murphy about the “economic challenges” of banning smoking in casinos.

US.- While the push continues for legislation to extend New Jersey’s indoor smoking ban to Atlantic City’s casinos, Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International has warned New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy about “economic challenges” if the bill moves forward.

Governor Murphy has said that he would sign such a bill, ending casinos’ exemption from New Jersey’s public health law on smoking. however, casinos remain firmly opposed to a ban on indoor smoking.

Allen told The Associated Press about his conversation with Murphy: “I don’t think I was trying to change the governor’s mind. It was a general conversation about the economic challenges of a smoking ban and the impact it would have.

“We operate in many states where smoking is not allowed,” he added. “When you look at markets where smoking has been banned, there have been “significant double-digit declines” in casino revenue.”

Hard Rock International runs Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in New Jersey. Smoking at casinos was temporarily banned during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 but were allowed to permit smoking again in July last year.

See also: Atlantic City casino workers picket for pay rises

Last month, the Stockton University released a poll that showed a majority of people in New Jersey would be in favour of a ban. The university polled 640 New Jersey adults, and 62 per cent said they support a smoking prohibition on casino floors. Some 31 per cent indicated that they opposed a ban, while 6 per cent were unsure.

“There’s still a majority in South Jersey supporting the ban, but it’s slightly lower – 59 per cent in South Jersey would support it,” said John Froonjian, director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton. South Jersey is where Atlantic City is located.

“There are more people who are dependent on the casino industry for jobs in the south, and the casino industry has said that if this ban goes into effect, they will lose revenue and that will translate into job losses,” Froonjian said.

See also: Atlantic City casino revenue in 2021 surpassed pre-pandemic levels

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has added its voice to calls for a smoking ban at Atlantic City casinos. And on April 12, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) met to voice their support for a ban.

The rally marked the 16th anniversary of the ban on indoor smoking in New Jersey via the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006.

Casinos have largely remained opposed to a permanent ban. The Casino Association of New Jersey, the trade group for Atlantic City’s nine casinos, recently commissioned a report predicting widespread job losses and revenue declines if smoking were banned.

“Atlantic City has yet to see growth from pre-pandemic levels,” association president Joe Lupo said. “Employment at our casinos is at a 20-year low, with less than 50 per cent of the workforce from 2003.”

See also: Bally’s ban indoor smoking at its Rhode Island casinos

In this article:
Atlantic City casinos Hard Rock International New Jersey