Weather Dampens AC Casinos Anti-Smoking Protest

The expression “healthy gambling habits” usually refers to the mental well-being of gamblers. However, a group of Atlantic City casino workers is extending the conversation to physical health. That’s why the AC casino workers braved the rain yesterday to protest the law that allows bettors to smoke inside the city’s casinos.

Members of the Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects (CEASE) continued their year of street demonstrations yesterday on the Atlantic City Boardwalk outside of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City. They did so because inside, dry retail casino officials were attending the East Coast Gaming Congress and NexGen Gaming Forum (ECGC).

The AC casino workers assembled as Hurricane Fiona inched up the East Coast and rain trapped protesters and outdoor smokers under the Hard Rock’s Boardwalk arch.

At 2:32 p.m. yesterday, they chanted:

Smoke-free!

AC!

Why the AC Casino Workers Protested Yesterday

The drenched CEASE protesters back bills A2151 and S264, which are pending in the New Jersey Legislature. If passed, those measures would end the AC casino exemption from indoor smoking bans.

Representing the bills’ opponents in his capacity as the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) president, Mark Giannantonio had agreed to participate in an ECGC panel discussion yesterday. Giannantonio, the proponent of the status quo, is also president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel.

On Sept. 2, ECGC announced it would hold a panel discussion on Sept. 22 titled Gaming Revenues Going Up In Smoke?

The ECGC announcement reads:

Ever since New Jersey carved casinos out of the statewide prohibition on indoor smoking at workplaces, employees have argued to remove the exemption while casino operators say a smoking ban would cause significant revenue losses and ensuing reductions in employment.

AC casinos aren’t alone, ECGC notes. Western neighbor Pennsylvania still allows smoking in casinos. Southwestern neighbor Delaware banned the practice in 2002.

However, on Sept. 13, one of the panelists issued a press release saying Giannantonio “backed out” of the discussion and ECGC canceled the session.

Indeed, NJGamblingSites.com noted yesterday that even the printed ECGC program didn’t show that agenda item.

NJGamblingSites.com spoke with Giannantonio yesterday after Gov. Phil Murphy‘s luncheon keynote speech at the event, as well. The CANJ president didn’t mention the panel.

Giannantonio was initially slated to present his viewpoints on a panel with:

  • Cynthia Hallett, President & CEO, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation
  • Eric Hausler, CEO, Greenwood Racing (PARX Casino)

Hallett forecasted the AC casino workers’ protest, if not the rain.

“If the Casino Association of New Jersey thinks their backpedaling on this discussion will make the issue go away, they are wrong. We are disappointed that this conversation will be missing from the formal conference program, but rest assured – the presence of casino workers who have been fighting for their health will be felt next week,” she said in the Sept. 13 press release from Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at NJ Gambling Sites, concentrating on online casino coverage. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University, as well as a master's degree in journalism from New York University, and has now shifted to NJ Gambling Sites to lend her expertise.