MGM Grand Detroit patrons can now smoke in select areas on the property. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
It is still not allowed on the casino floor
MGM Grand Detroit lifted the ban on indoor smoking, allowing patrons to light up in certain areas of the property. The casino announced the new policy on Wednesday, effective immediately.
Visitors are still not allowed to trigger a lung arrow on the casino floor. The only two indoor areas where smoking is allowed are the “east smoking holes and west smoking holes”. The casino has installed doors on two sections of the property to try and reduce smoke drift into the adjacent areas. There is still an outdoor smoking patio.
Smoking was originally banned on casino floors in 2020
The Michigan Gaming Control Board banned smoking on casino floors in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as smokers will have to remove their masks to smoke.
Hollywood Casino in Greektown has reinstated smoking, but restricts it to the second floor. MotorCity Casino, another Detroit gambling venue, still bans the activity.
The anti-smoking group hates it
Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights, isn’t thrilled about the policy change, as one might expect. It said in a statement that this was “the equivalent of coal in their stockings this week” for employees at the casinos.
“After more than two years of a safe workplace, these workers will now have to choose between their health and their salary,” Hallett continued. “This is unacceptable. Efforts to try to separate smoking and non-smoking sections, such as adding doors, have repeatedly proven ineffective in protecting staff and guests from dangerous secondhand smoke.”
Although gambling and smoking have historically been closely linked to each other, according to a report by C3 Gaming in June 2022, non-smoking casinos now tend to outpace casinos that allow smoking.
“Although only 12% of people smoke in the United States, some casinos continue to prioritize the perceived profits from this dwindling group over the health of their workers,” Hallett added.
The pandemic has brought attention to smoking in casinos
The topic of smoking in casinos has received more attention during the pandemic. When state governments and regulators imposed bans as casinos began reopening across the country in 2020, many casinos found they could get something good out of no smoking.
If they want to work, they have to spend hours unable to avoid secondhand smoke
Twenty states already ban smoking in casinos, while in states that do not, many casino operators have maintained smoking bans. The center of the smoking controversy is New Jersey, where legislation was introduced last year to ban the practice in gambling venues. Atlantic City casino workers staged protests, urging casinos and lawmakers to protect their health, especially because if they want to work, they have to spend hours unable to avoid second-hand smoke.
Rhode Island casino workers have also called on lawmakers to ban smoking in casinos. Members of the Pennsylvania legislature have proposed changes to the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act that would remove exemptions for casinos that currently allow them to avoid restrictions on smoking in public places.