After three failed attempts, legislation to curb smoking at the Atlantic City Casinos has finally cleared a New Jersey Senate Committee today, Monday, January 29, 2024.

This has been a goal of New Jersey State Senator Joseph Vitale, D-19 for quite some time.

The vote was 5-3 to release the legislation from committee; where it had been long stalled.

This has been a very controversial issue, because it is both a legitimate health issue; that also will have potential significant business implications.

No one involved in this protracted process wants anyone to become sick.

There was an amendment today that would provide for the legislation to be implemented within 90 days of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signing the legislation.

In multiple interviews that I have done with Governor Murphy, he has pledged to sign the legislation if and when it reaches his desk.

The Atlantic City Casino industry has opposed this measure because it places them at a competitive disadvantage with other jurisdictions that allow indoor smoking.

I have interviewed multiple sources (off the record) today, who have advised that there is still a long way to go regarding this matter.

The Atlantic City Casino industry would like to negotiate a compromise, in order to properly address health concerns … while ensuring that Atlantic City does not lose market share, jobs and suffer closures due to this change.

For example, a 10 percent drop in revenue could easily result in the closure of two or more Atlantic City casinos.

New York City casinos are also knocking at Atlantic City’s door and will open in the near future.

The Atlantic City casino industry has recognized that non-smoking, or, something very close to that is inevitable.

This is about addressing employee health concerns, along with remaining a healthy industry.

Indoor smoking was banned all throughout New Jersey years ago.

Because of the unique scope of the Atlantic City casinos, a special carve out (exemption), has been in effect … which has allowed for indoor smoking to continue in a small portion of the casinos.

Mark Giannantonio is the president and chief executive officer of Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City and the president of the Casino Association of New Jersey.

About today’s action and this issue, Giannantonio said:

The industry has been and continues to be very willing to discuss potential amendments to the current bill with the legislature that would avert a complete ban at this time. We look forward to continuing this dialogue as we move forward, to find a meaningful compromise that will address the concerns of our employees without jeopardizing jobs and benefits to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The casino industry will continue to work with stakeholders for the betterment of the city, the tourism and gaming industries and the collective interest of the entire Atlantic City workforce, said Giannantonio.

This is a developing story. Updates as warranted.

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