The smoke signals from the Capitol in Trenton, New Jersey were clear enough to the present casino workers, but they were not any less satisfactory. The Garden State and its casino workers have been tilting at the smoking windmill for many months now, only to discover that it’s a gargantuan challenge to overcome.
Not even appeals to Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, have swayed local legislators, even though many profess their support for the measure and at least on paper, a smoking ban bill looks as good as in the books. Yet it is not, and Thursday events show that there is more to be desired.
Democratic lawmakers, the ones who support the smoking ban on casino floors, have been shy of putting the bill up for a vote as it would need sufficient votes to pass it. Those votes have been scant, with 100 casino workers converging on the Capitol building to protest their dissatisfaction.
Smoking ban on casino floors has been a hot topic for the past years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic which saw many casinos empty their floors of smokers, or at least prohibit smoking on-site to be accurate.
Certain states, such as Pennsylvania, have been go-getters when it comes to introducing no-smoking mandates, but others, New Jersey including, have been hesitant fearing unintended consequences to the casino economy. Casinos for their part have insisted that they have not yet recovered, and land-based revenue should not be confused with online gambling where the money is split with various third parties that supply and maintain the platforms.
Yet, this means very little for the workers who are suffering from second-hand smoke. Sen. Joseph Vitale, chairman of the Senate health committee, has apologized to the workers and said that the bill would have failed the vote by a single vote, forcing the backers to bid their time once more.
The Casino Association of New Jersey has said briefly that the current proposal to ban smoking would have an adverse effect on the economy of Atlantic City. The association’s President, Mark Giannantonio, issued a statement on Thursday, cited by the Associated Press, that the current form of the bill would be detrimental.
Yet, the direction and future are clearly set. Workers from not just the Garden State but also Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Nevada are all making a concentrated effort to have smoking removed from casino floors.
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