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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 23, 2023 02:32 PM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Casino Smoking Ban Compromise
Under the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008, smoking in public places is prohibited except for cigar lounges, private clubs and drinking establishments that generate the majority of their revenue from alcohol sales. Furthermore, under the act, casinos are also permitted to have smoking on up to 50% of the facility’s gaming floor.
During the COVID 19 Pandemic, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) ordered casinos to temporarily ban all smoking on July 2, 2020, so that patrons could appropriately comply with the mask mandate set by the Department of Health. However, this order was lifted a year later. Today, Parx’s casino in Bensalem, which is Pennsylvania’s top gaming facility in terms of 2022 revenue ($637.5 million), has remained smoke-free as well as the newest satellite Parx casino in Shippensburg.
As neighboring states explore prohibiting smoking in casinos, some are pressuring Pennsylvania to follow. Proponents, especially those who are employed in the industry, argue working in casinos are making them sick essentially forcing employees to choose between their health and livelihood. On the other hand, casinos and opponents fear a total smoking ban would cost the industry revenue and jobs and hurt local communities that rely on the tax money generated.
With more than 14,800 people being by Pennsylvania’s casinos, I feel it is essential to come up with a compromise that protects the workers and the industry. I will soon be introducing legislation that would allow a casino to choose between going smoke-free or completely enclosing a smoking area of the casino and installing an adequate ventilation system to eliminate the permeation of smoke into the nonsmoking areas. This would grant the gaming industry some flexibility in how their facility operates in terms of smoking while also giving the employees a chance at a smoke-free workplace.

Introduced as SB704