The resorts in question, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, decided to opt out of indoor smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic, fearing that cigarette smoke could help the virus spread and infect more people. More than a year after the pandemic has been defeated, the resorts seem to show very little interest in bringing back smoking on their casino floors. Recently, even Kansas tried to push for an indoor smoking ban on casino floors.
Tribal Operators in Connecticut Continue to Say No to Smoking
The resort’s owners, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, are citing their community members’ health, but also point out that the lack of cigarette smoke has not really impacted their financial bottom lines.
The debate to suspend smoking on casino floors has been ranging from Rhode Islands to California, with states such as New Jersey arguing that casino smoking should indeed go, but casino operators, including the Casino Association of New Jersey, cautioning that chasing smokers away would depress financial performance and slow down post-pandemic recovery.
Connecticut, however, tells a different story as the two biggest resorts there are obviously not seeing the point in bringing cigar smoke back. Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and chief executive, said that there was more economic sense in opposing smoke as a matter of fact. He said that before the pandemic, sanitary staff would retrieve the equivalent of 200 packs of cigarette butts a day.
Those are usually made of plastic, which is also causing environmental harm. Jeff Hamilton, the president and general manager at Mohegan Sun, shared a similar sentiment in which he outlined that the company has been enjoying positive feedback from guests and employees, with people welcoming the chance to be healthy and enjoy their favorite games.
The Virus Forces Casinos and Resorts to Prioritize Health
Of course, tribal operators were also more susceptible to the pandemic. Their communities suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 virus, and that quickly made businesses established to serve those communities that the best option to protect members is to ensure that every precaution is taken – that meant snuffing out cigarette smoke on casino floors. Connecticut, though, is far from banning indoor smoking on casino floors.
Presently, nearly all states in the United States prohibit indoor smoking but make an exception for their gambling industry based on thin evidence. As Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have shown, cigarettes are not necessary for an economic boom.
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