As societal trends have overall drifted towards more and more spaces being smoke free (although the vaping trend among youth may be offering a fresh setback), there are a lot of casinos that still have predominantly smoking floors, or smoking and non-smoking sections intermixed.
As a former smoker, I can certainly symphathize with those who enjoy a cigarette while playing slots. As a former smoker, I also can symphathize with those who absolutely can’t stand the smell of it and find it a hindrance when they have to sit next to smokers playing.
Fortunately, some states have come around to establishing rules that casino facilities should be non-smoking, an idea that was fought in some markets as being anti-competitive. On the East Coast alone, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York all have numerous non-smoking facilities. (In Maryland an outdoor section with machines at multiple properties I visited existed, but they were small and by far a minority of the casino floor.)
But in other markets it’s worse. In New Jersey, 75 percent of the floor must be non-smoking. However, when a casino like Borgata puts a bank of smoking allowed slots across the aisle from non-smoking slots, which it has in a few places, it doesn’t really all that much good. In Florida, when I went to Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, they had a non-smoking room but with a minimum selection and it was mostly higher limit machines.
And in Connecticut, both casinos have dedicated non-smoking sections, but remain a minority of the casino floors. (The common areas were made non-smoking awhile ago, thankfully.)
If you’re someone who thinks non-smoking casinos should be more the norm, there’s a website, Smokefree Casinos, that specifically publishes information on where you can find smoke free facilities, as well as how to tell your local casino you wish to take smoke free facilities seriously.
The website is linked to the nonprofit educational organization American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, and both of those link to the American for Nonsmokers Rights, the lobbying entity pushing for more non-smoking spaces and pushing back on second hand smoke scenarios, particularly relating to children but clearly for all adults, given the focus on casino spaces.
Because many casino spaces are built on sovereign land of Native American tribes, there are pushes both at the state level and the tribal level to seek change. As a customer, if you have both options nearby, you can choose to gamble at one over another. One reason I find myself visiting MGM Springfield a bit more often is I don’t have to deal with the smokers.
Just as I encourage players to educate themselves around their options around slots, if you’re a non-smoker I encourage you to do the same around casinos.