Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fired-Up Activists

Double Down

The reels are always spinning in the gambling industry, and “The Double Down” is here every Friday to catch you up on all of the week’s biggest news. Sports Handle’s “Get a Grip” rounds up everything on the sports betting side, and US Bets provides the best of the rest: brick-and-mortar happenings, online casino developments, poker headlines, and more. So pull up a chair, crunch the numbers, and slide forward another stack of chips.

Big week for butting in

There are two types of casino customers: those who want to smoke cigarettes while they gamble, and those who don’t want to be anywhere near smoke when they gamble.

OK, maybe some tiny percentage falls into the bucket of “I don’t smoke, but I don’t mind breathing it in.” (And those in that ambivalent group figure not to be very vocal about it.) But, for the most part, this is a polarizing topic with a pronounced delineation between the sides.

And this topic did some major wafting across state lines this week.

In Louisiana, the Shreveport City Council passed Ordinance 46 on Tuesday, repealing a law banning smoking in casinos. Not surprisingly, this drew a swift reaction from organizations in favor of smoking bans.

“It is shameful that the Shreveport City Council has voted to repeal the smoke-free workplace ordinance that was put in place to protect casino workers from having to breathe secondhand smoke on a daily basis,” Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said in a statement. “We stand with casino workers and our partners in Shreveport who fought against this ordinance and remain committed to reversing this ill-advised decision because no one should be forced to choose between their health and their paycheck. Councilors who voted for this ordinance today will be held accountable by the very casino workers whose lives they are putting in harm’s way.”

In New Jersey, where CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects) was formed in 2021 when smoking returned to Atlantic City casinos as the COVID pandemic began to retreat, leaders of the United Auto Workers joined CEASE for a press conference at the State House in Trenton on Thursday. They were there to call for votes on the stagnant legislation intended to close the loophole that allows for smoking in casinos despite smoking being banned in nearly all other indoor public spaces.

CEASE was also in Rhode Island on Thursday, making its collective voice heard ahead of a committee hearing on S438, a Senate bill to ban smoking in the state’s two casinos. Rhode Island’s CEASE chapter formed last year.

And the CEASE message is continuing to spread, as Kansas casino workers formed their own chapter this past week.

“I’ve been working in a casino for almost 5½ years,” Kansas CEASE founder Joe Hafler, a casino security worker, told KCTV5. “Just tired of dealing with the smoke and getting home and smelling like smoke every day, having to take a shower as soon as I get home. I have been diagnosed with COPD and I also have bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep throat once a year since I started working in the casino.”

According to C.E.A.S.E., there are 11 states that still permit smoking in casinos. It is apparent that the fighting spirit of the anti-smoking faction will not be extinguished until that number is zero.

This week on Gamble On …

Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed RotoGrinders Head of Motorsports Stephen “stevietpfl” Young to talk all things auto racing betting ahead of Indy 500 weekend:

“Do I think it’s the next big thing in sports betting? Yes.” @stevietpfl joins #GambleOn ahead of a major motorsports weekend: https://t.co/cFZ3DOWk3R pic.twitter.com/2wJLfwtT0R

— US Bets (@US_Bets) May 26, 2023

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Image: Blundell Design

Author: Ryan Gonzales