Pennsylvania Health Committee Votes to Advance Casino Smoking Ban Bill

Legislation banning smoking in Pennsylvania casinos expected to pass health committee

The Pennsylvania House Health Committee is expected to pass legislation on Wednesday morning that would require the state’s casino floors to go entirely smoke-free. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), seeks to amend the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act and eliminate the exemption that allows up to half of casino gaming floors to be designated for indoor smoking.

The Health Committee is scheduled to vote on Frankel’s House Bill 1657, which would remove the casino exemption from the Clean Indoor Air Act. The bill has gained support from public health advocates and is favored to pass the committee.

Frankel has expressed confidence in the legislation finding favor in the 25-member committee and is committed to protecting workers from exposure to toxic smoke. The bill aims to eliminate the smoking carveout for casinos, drinking establishments, and private clubs, while maintaining exemptions for cigar and tobacco lounges.

Of the 17 land-based casinos in Pennsylvania, all but two currently permit indoor smoking. Parx Casino in Bensalem and Parx Casino Shippensburg have chosen to prohibit indoor smoking, with the former seeing no negative impact on gaming revenue as a result.

The casino industry has traditionally opposed smoking bans, arguing that they may hurt gaming revenue as players are forced to take breaks to smoke. However, responsible gaming advocates and industry experts believe that smoke-free environments are beneficial and can help curb problem gambling.

If passed, the legislation has the potential to create a healthier environment for both casino employees and patrons, while also aligning Pennsylvania with the growing trend towards smoke-free indoor spaces.