Making the News

Philadelphia Daily News

Originally Published:Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"The timing of the ban couldn't have been worse, particularly since there is no ban at the Pennsylvania facilities," said casino-industry analyst Michael J. Pollock, managing director of Linwood, N.J.-based Spectrum Gaming Group. Delaying the full ban, he said, "effectively buys time for the industry in Atlantic City at a very crucial moment."

A.C. casinos gasp over a 12-day smoking ban

By Chuck Darrow
Philadelphia Daily News

ATLANTIC CITY - Pat Verruno wasn't a happy camper as she sat at an "American Originals" slot machine yesterday afternoon at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, but it had nothing to do with how the reels were lining up for her.

Instead, the 64-year-old Ventnor resident was ticked at the prospect of the temporary smoking ban that was to go into effect at 12:01 this morning. The law, passed last April by the city council here, forbids gamblers from lighting up for at least the next 12 days anywhere but in specially designated lounges, while council prepares to vote on a new bill that would extend, for at least another year, the rule that limits casino-floor smoking zones to 25 percent of a hotel's gaming area.

"I'm not happy about it," Verruno complained between puffs on her cigarette. "I think if you're in here losing your money, you should be able to smoke. I worked in a casino since Resorts [International] opened [in 1978]. It never bothered me. I don't have lung cancer."

Originally, Verruno and her fellow nicotine fans were supposed to be able to light up again at 12:01 a.m. next Wednesday. That's when council expected to implement a delay on the full smoking ban originally codified in April 2007.

The proposed extension is a response to the local gaming industry, which, spearheaded by Donald Trump's three casinos, successfully petitioned council to stall the full ban. The gaming halls cited the projected negative effect that a complete smoking ban would have on their bottom lines, which already have been clobbered by competition from Pennsylvania slot parlors and the tanking of the nation's economy.

But, yesterday, city officials acknowledged that it would be at least Oct. 27 before council votes on the proposal to postpone the full ban, because not enough members will be present next Wednesday to make a decision. A new bill must be passed because city law prohibits council from simply repealing the April 2007 decision.

And even if council does approve the measure, it's not guaranteed that the 25 percent rule will return. Mayor Scott Evans has to sign the legislation, and so far he hasn't committed to doing so.

Casino operators - who early this morning were to open designated smoking lounges away from the casino floors - certainly aren't happy about any kind of smoking ban. But they can live with the compromise offered by city council.

Gamblers "are allowed to smoke in Pennsylvania, and they're allowed to smoke in Connecticut [casinos], so they do have choices," said Mark Juliano, who, as chief executive of Trump Entertainment Resorts, runs Trump Marina, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal.

"We need another year to hopefully weather [tough times ahead] without another issue," Juliano said.

Juliano and his fellow casino chieftains apparently aren't playing Chicken Little when they warn of a full smoking ban's dire consequences.

"The timing of the ban couldn't have been worse, particularly since there is no ban at the Pennsylvania facilities," said casino-industry analyst Michael J. Pollock, managing director of Linwood, N.J.-based Spectrum Gaming Group. Delaying the full ban, he said, "effectively buys time for the industry in Atlantic City at a very crucial moment."

The expected postponement of the smoking ban has put a damper on what anti-smoking advocates had hoped would be a day of celebration today. On the other hand, they're delighted that the casinos will be smoke-free for 12 days, instead of the expected weeklong banishment.

"Let's keep [delaying the vote] forever and ever, and everyone will be happy and healthy," said Michele Holcomb, a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society.

Holcomb has an unlikely ally in Catherine Tropeano, a New City, N.Y., resident who regularly gambles at Resorts Atlantic City. Tropeano admitted she'd prefer not being allowed to light up while she gambles.

"It would help me not to smoke as much," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Spectrum OSO Asia SPECTRUMETRIX  Spectrum-i 
© Copyright 2007-2017 - Spectrum Gaming Group. All Rights Reserved.

Spectrum Gaming Group • 1201 New Road, Suite 308 • Linwood, NJ 08221 • USA
Phone: 609.926.5100 • Fax: 609.926.5121 • [email protected]


Site Development and Hosting provided by
MasseyMedia