Pennsylvania lawmaker reintroduces bill to ban smoking inside state casinos

Pennsylvania’s Rep. Dan Frankel (D-23) has re-introduced a bill to ban smoking inside casinos, as advocates argue the current scheme is impacting workers’ health. Under Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act, gambling venues are among the few places that allow indoor smoking. However, Frankel’s latest legislative proposal seeks to eliminate loopholes that expose casino workers to secondhand smoke. 

Frankel is a co-sponsor of the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act. In addition to closing current loopholes, the bill seeks to expand the definition of smoking to include e-cigarettes and empower local governments to enact smoke-free ordinances. 

“What this is about is public health,” Frankel said. “We know that smoking kills 22,000 people in Pa. every year. Many of those people are affected by secondhand smoke,” he stated, as reported by CBS Pittsburgh.  

Pennsylvania's Rep. Dan Frankel (D-23).

Some wonder whether banning smoking would hurt casinos’ revenue. However, Richard McGarvey with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said that the Parx Casino, the only one in the state that continued to ban indoor smoking after the pandemic, has seen consistent gaming win when compared to non-pandemic years. It’s also the largest in terms of revenue in the state.

Meanwhile, Rivers Casino said there are designated smoking and non-smoking spots in its property. Also, the casino said its restaurants, banquet rooms, poker rooms, and many other spaces are non-smoking areas. 

“Decisions about smoking in Pennsylvania’s casinos are made by the state legislature, and Rivers will, of course, comply with whatever the Commonwealth mandates,” the casino said in a statement. 

“I think public opinion has changed. We’ve seen the number of smokers drop precipitously,” Frankel commented.

He further said he expects the bill to get bipartisan support. If he has it his way and everything goes smoothly, he said it could go into effect within the year.