WAYNE PARRY Associated Press
ATLANTIC CITY — Furious that a session to discuss a proposed smoking ban was shelved at a major casino industry conference, casino employees and anti-smoking customers in the gambling halls staged a vociferous protest outside the meeting on Thursday.
About 100 people gathered in the rain under a walkway outside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, demanding that the state legislature act on a bill to ban smoking in casinos, which has the support of more than half. from state legislators and Governor Phil Murphy.
The bill has stalled without a hearing in a state senate or parliament committee, and a similar measure also died without a vote last year.
Thursday afternoon, the East Coast Gaming Congress was scheduled to hold a panel discussion on smoking in casinos, an issue that concerns employees, customers and lawmakers not only in New Jersey, but also in states like Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and others.
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It was demolished when casino industry representative, Resorts Casino Hotel President Mark Giannantonio, withdrew. He recently became president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, the casino industry association in Atlantic City, which strongly opposes a smoking ban.
“The CANJ is running and hiding right now,” said Peter Naccarelli, a dealer at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and a leader of a push by casino employees to ban smoking in their workplaces. “They have no logical arguments.”
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Lamont White, another anti-smoking Borgata dealer, said the casino industry’s main argument has always been, “We would lose money, and money is more important than the lives of casino workers.”
“That’s all they have to say,” he said.
Giannantonio declined to comment on Thursday’s demonstration, referring a reporter to a statement released by the casino association earlier this month saying that “an immediate smoking ban would have a significant negative effect on Atlantic City.”
Murphy, the state’s Democratic governor, has promised to sign the bill if it passes. But legislative leaders have so far refused to set a hearing date for a committee in the Senate or the Assembly, which must happen before the bill can move forward.
Murphy addressed Thursday’s conference but did not detail the proposed ban.
But during an afternoon session, Eric Hausler, CEO of Greenwood Racing, which owns the smoke-free Parx casino in Pennsylvania, said the policy has been successful.
The smoke from wildfires will finally be blown off the coast on Sunday as the start of a new pattern rolls in. It will keep us very warm and humid until the end of the astronomical summer Thursday. A few highs will hit 90 Monday.
“So far, so good,” he said.
Upon reopening in 2020 after the first wave of the pandemic, Hausler said, Parx decided to remain smoke-free, “for better or worse. If you look at our market share numbers, they’re holding up just fine. We want to stay that way. Our customers are used to them.” touched.”