|Plans to institute a full smoking ban for casinos in Atlantic City have been altered following discussions between members of the City Council and casino officials.|
The modified provisions call for the city’s eleven casinos to construct airport-style ‘smoking lounges’ within 90 days along with instituting smoke-free gaming floors. The City Council threatened a full ban if the lounges with separate ventilation systems and devoid of employees are not built.
'Smoking ends in 90 days,' Councilman Bruce Ward told The Press of Atlantic City last week.
'The casinos, however, will be allowed to construct smoking lounges similar to airport smoking lounges but they will not have personnel in them.'
This is the second time the City Council has threatened a full ban on smoking. Last year, a provision calling for smoke-free casinos was watered down to allow smoking in one-quarter of all city gaming halls.
'We will not sacrifice the health of our casino workers any longer,' said Councilman George Tibbitt.
'But I pushed for this because I don’t want to hurt the casinos.'
The casinos blamed this partial smoking ban for the industry’s 5.7 percent decline in revenues last year and are worried that more customers could be scared off if a complete ban is enacted.
'The last thing the industry needs to face is the instability of the very city rule that already has brought new challenges to this market,' said Carlos Tolosa, President for Harrah’s Eastern Division.
'In short, even the threat of a change of the ordinance adds more uncertainty to an already difficult and tenuous market.'