Maybe it’s a sign of the time, maybe it’s because Westgate is trying to get more attention to its off strip property. However, for whatever reason, Westgate Las Vegas is now banning smoking in its One Sports Race and Sports SuperBook.
According to the Vice President of Race and Sports Operations, Jay Kornegay, this is because of health reason: “A lot of people characterize sports bettors as, you know, smoking cigars and gambling and all these games, but they’re very health conscious people.”
While Nevada banned smoking in most public places in 2006, smoking is still allowed in clubs and casino floors.
Whether to allow smoking in Casinos has been a huge debate in Las Vegas for the last decade. While many tourists are pushing more and more for smoke to be banned in Casinos, local business leaders are scared the ban would keep some tourists away.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a report in 2009 showing workers in Las Vegas casinos are exposed to dangerous levels of secondhand smoke at work. The NIOSH report recommends making casinos 100% smokefree to ensure indoor air within casinos is safe for workers to breathe.
NIOSH conducted indoor air quality tests and biomarker assessments on 124 card dealers in Bally’s, Caesars Palace, and Paris casinos on the Las Vegas strip. Researchers found secondhand smoke components in the air including nicotine, 4-vinyl pyridine, solanesol, benzene, toluene, p-dichlorormethane, and formaldehyde. Researchers also conducted urinary testing of workers during and after their shifts which indicated cancer causing toxins in secondhand smoke were absorbed into workers’ bodies.
The 2006 Smoking ban was partially blamed for the 2010 Bankruptcy of Herbst Gaming, which was the states largest slot machine route operator. When bars, restaurants and taverns were no longer allowed to have smoking everywhere, the company suffered a 20 percent decline in revenues, according to Deutch Bank gaming analyst Andrew Zarnett.
Stephanie Steinberg, the chairperson for “Smoking-Free Gaming of America” disagrees with this assessment: “Bad weather, gas prices, market saturation, competition, casino debt, the recession that began in 2008 that severely affected all gaming revenues, including Vegas, are the other cards missing from his deck. Smoking bans are not the cause of revenue declines, rather, it’s poor business planning.”