Smokefree Louisiana Acknowledges Responsible Gaming Education Initiative But Says “Responsible Gaming” Must Include Smokefree Working Environments

Published 7:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2022

 Protecting workers and gaming customers should be the top priority of industry executives, according to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights local spokesperson Raegan Carter. She addressed the issue in response to the American Gaming Association’s acknowledgement of “Responsible Gaming Education Month” which began September 1.

              “We applaud the industry’s support of responsible gaming but strongly believe it is a disingenuous concept for those facilities that continue to fight smokefree policies. How can anyone honestly believe the industry is serious about its responsibility to the health and safety of its workers and patrons when it insists on putting those workers and customers in toxic environments,” she asks.

              Carter says one of the basic tenets of responsible gaming is to recognize and minimize the potential for addiction and problem gambling, and that taking periodic breaks is a proven tool to aid those with a gambling problem. However, she says some facilities insist on allowing and encouraging smoking at a machine or gaming table, rather than supporting smokefree environments where players must go outside for their smoke breaks. She cites a recent letter from the National Council on Problem Gambling to lawmakers in New Jersey that clearly states, “Making casinos smokefree is likely to reduce the incidence of problem gambling and improve public health.” National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

              Carter says Louisiana casinos and gaming venues have traditionally opposed local smokefree ordinances, but that more than 30 municipalities have passed these safeguards over industry opposition. She says that number is growing and that the public is becoming more aware that most gambling operators will choose profits over employee and customer health, even if that means feeding into customer addictions.

              “They (gaming operators) fight smokefree ordinances tooth and nail. They want that addicted smoker to sit at a machine or table and not get up for as long as possible, certainly not to go outside for a smoke break. It is unconscionable to see them bragging about ‘responsible gaming’ while opposing smokefree laws which are some of the easiest and most responsible acts they can promote,” she adds.

              Louisiana’s Legislature passed a statewide smokefree workplace law in 2007 which included loopholes for bars, casinos, and gaming venues. However, the law allowed local municipalities to pass more comprehensive local ordinances which have since included such casino markets as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport. Lake Charles and Jefferson Parish are the largest remaining communities that have yet to protect bar and gaming workers and patrons from indoor smoking at all facilities.

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ANR and the ANRF are members of the Smokefree Louisiana Coalition of health organizations and individuals united in expanding Louisiana’s indoor smokefree laws to cover all employees. For more information, please visit our website at Smoke-FreeLouisiana.org.