Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE), a group based in Atlantic City, N.J. aiming to permanently ban smoking in casinos, has praised Connecticut casinos Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino for their smoke-free policies, which have remained in place since the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to an article and subsequent statements made by the top executives of the southeastern Connecticut casinos, CEASE issued a statement praising their smoke-free policies on Tuesday. The casinos’ management had dismissed an industry analyst’s suggestion that their policies had contributed to a slight decrease in slot-machine revenues during the 2023 fiscal year that concluded on June 30.
Spectrum Gaming Group had raised the question of whether the casinos’ decisions to remain smoke-free after the pandemic reopenings had influenced casino players who smoke to try digital gaming, which was legalized in Connecticut in October 2021.
During the 12-month period that ended in June, the combined slot win of the casinos, the wagers retained after prize payouts, amounted to $848 million, a 1.5% reduction from the $861 million retained in the previous 12 months. Meanwhile, gross gaming revenue from online gaming nearly doubled in the same period.
Jeff Hamilton, President and General Manager of Mohegan Sun, and Jason Guyot, President and CEO of Foxwoods, both expressed skepticism regarding the notion that the continuation of smoking bans had negatively impacted their brick-and-mortar casino businesses.
Jeff Hamilton, President and General Manager of Mohegan Sun
Both casinos, like many others across the country, had implemented smoking bans when they reopened after temporary closures due to the pandemic. CEASE’s statement voiced support for Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods’ decision to maintain the polcy, arguing that the traditional understanding of smoking in casinos is undergoing a significant shift.
“We’ve seen report after report bought and paid for by some in the gaming industry that have no basis in fact ― and this recent claim about casinos in Connecticut is now being shot down by Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods,” CEASE said in its statement.
“We applaud these two casinos for making the decision many months ago to protect employees and guests from dangerous secondhand smoke. The old conventional wisdom about smoking in casinos no longer applies, and we’re seeing example after example of this new reality playing out across the country.”
The group further highlighted the proposed change in Atlantic City that aims to close the casino smoking loophole, which CEASE says aligns with a broader trend toward healthier and smoke-free environments in casinos.
In New Jersey, a state law enacted in 2006 prohibited smoking in all workplaces except casinos. Although temporarily banned during the pandemic-induced shutdowns, smoking was reinstated on July 4, 2021, with restrictions allowing smoking on 25% of each casino’s gaming floor.
The CEASE group, boasting a membership that includes thousands of casino dealers and frontline gaming workers, also has active chapters in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Kansas, and Virginia.
CEASE’s advocacy for extending workplace bans to casinos has gained momentum in recent legislative sessions, and the group is expected to continue its lobbying efforts in the upcoming fall session.