Will Las Vegas Strip Casinos Ban a Popular Bad Habit?

New data suggests that something that was once unthinkable could happen (even in Sin City).

Las Vegas caters to every sin.

You can experience “pride” when you pull off some sort of improbable gambling beat, “greed” when you see your winnings pile up, “lust” during all sorts of R-rated performances, “gluttony” as you partake of the city’s many fine culinary offerings (and its endless buffets), “wrath” when your losing or you can’t get into one of those top-tier eateries, and, of course, “sloth” if you sleep the day away or choose to lounge at a pool.

Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report, Wynn Resorts (WYNN) – Get Wynn Resorts Limited Report, and every other Las Vegas casino operator has made sin their business.  It’s a city built on excess and allowing people to do things they might not when at home.

Offering endless sin (even when the sins are relatively mild ones) comes with a balance. The raucous table next you doing shots (and letting everyone know it) may make your indulgent romantic dinner less enjoyable. That’s a balance all Las Vegas operators have to consider.

Do you offer a quiet pool experience, a day club with thumping DJ music, or something in the middle. Those are decisions Caesars, MGM, Wynn, and others must make for every venue and event.

The same has been true of another sin — smoking — but new data suggests that the choice around whether to allow people to light up in casinos may not actually be a hard one to make.

Image source: Palms Casino

Smoking and Casinos Have Long Gone Together

During the darkest days of the pandemic (aside from the period when casinos were actually fully closed) Las Vegas casinos had to ban smoking because of mask rules. That banished smokers to outside areas.

Las Vegas and really casinos in general have had to play a challenging game with smoking as the dangers of habit have become evident and it has become less popular. In the 60s, 70s, 80, and even 90s, casinos were a haven for smokers. Many Las Vegas casinos even had women peddling loose cigarettes on the casino floor so people (some who did not regularly smoke) could get their fix without leaving the machines or tables.

That has changed over the years with casinos expanding no smoking sections (and some even going smoke free, albeit that is very rare). The fear has always been that while most casino employees and any non-smoking guests would prefer smoke-free casinos, ban would keep smokers away and hurt revenue.

A new report suggests that might not be true.

Will Las Vegas Strip Casinos Ban Smoking?

C3 Gaming, a Las Vegas-based company, has issued a 30-page report that suggests that ending/banning smoking in casinos won’t meaningfully impact revenue, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“As a nation, we have seen a cultural shift away from smoking with fewer Americans than ever smoking cigarettes,” Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality told the paper. “I think the trend of increased nonsmoking space will continue,” she said. “It can help casinos attract employees who don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke as well as guests. I think we may see a time when only a handful of casinos allow smoking in designated areas.”

The research was conducted independently and was not financed by any outside party.

MGM’s Park MGM currently bans smoking, making it the only full smoke-free casino on the Strip. And, while more casinos could follow that example as essentially a marketing play to attract non-smokers, a full ban would likely require legislation at the state level, which seems unlikely.

The data, however, does open the door for more casinos to push smoking into designated casino areas allowing for the rest of the gaming floor to be, if not smoke-free, at least less smoky.

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