When Resorts World Las Vegas opens on the Strip this summer as expected, it will be at least the third hotel-casino on the resort corridor to ban or limit smoking on the property.
This latest addition to the roster of hotel-casinos placing a strict limit on smoking comes as resorts are experimenting with new concepts to attract customers. Adults-only casinos are another idea being explored during the city’s recovery from a pandemic-related economic slump.
Two hotel-casinos have staked out positions as adults-only properties, banning anyone under age 21 from the site, except in designated restaurants. These are Circa Resort in downtown Las Vegas and the Cromwell Las Vegas on the Strip.
Some experts believe the adults-only concept will work better at smaller properties than at the megaresorts that have massive hotel towers and thousands of guest rooms. Circa and the Cromwell both have fewer than 1,000 rooms.
As this unfolds, the smoke-free concept has started to take root on the Strip.
In the fall, Park MGM announced it would be an entirely nonsmoking property. This occurred about the same time that the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas banned smoking from some public spaces, but not the gaming floor. Resorts World will ban smoking throughout the property, except in the casino. All three hotel-casinos are on the west side of the Strip.
Anton Nikodemus, an MGM Resorts executive, said the decision to go smoke-free at Park MGM was based on “continued guest requests.” Park MGM, once known as the Monte Carlo, is near T-Mobile Arena, home of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
‘Toxic, COVID-laced Smoke’
Randy Hayden, a Louisiana-based consultant for Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said younger casino patrons don’t want to visit or work in casinos filled with smoke. This generation is “more health-conscious than the older generation that currently frequents a casino,” he told Casino.org.
“Many of the casinos themselves have publicly stated their insistence they will provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees and customers during the COVID era, but this remains a dubious claim if they allow customers to pull down their masks and blow toxic, COVID-laced smoke at a gaming table,” he said.
Allowing customers to smoke could present a problem for Las Vegas as gaming proliferates nationwide, Hayden said. There are about 1,000 casinos across the country, according to the American Gaming Association website. Many provide nonsmoking settings, Hayden noted.
“Gamblers now recognize they can locally have a ‘what happens in Vegas’ outing and not have to choke their way through that experience,” Hayden said.
Smoking a Business Decision
Others contend that banning smoking is a business decision that should be left up to each casino company.
Nevadans have addressed the smoking issue in an election before. In 2006, Nevada voters approved the Clean Indoor Air Act, banning smoking in some public places, but not casinos.
Gaming industry advocates contend a smoking ban drives customers to casinos in states where gamblers can light up.
When smoking was outlawed in New Orleans casinos in 2015 and Baton Rouge in 2018, revenue from those places fell by 15-17 percent, Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, told Casino.org.
“If we have reduced customer demand, we have reduced staffing requirements and reduced vendor purchases,” Duty said.
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