Parx Executive Talks Smoking At Pennsylvania Casinos During G2E Panel

Written By Corey Sharp on October 19, 2023 - Last Updated on October 20, 2023
Image of a burning cigarette for a story about a panel discussion at the G2E conference in regards to banning smoking at Pennsylvania casinos.

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) brings the gaming industry together for panel discussions and networking. Parx Casino Chief Marketing Officer Marc Oppenheimer was part of a panel discussion in Las Vegas addressing the controversial topic of smoking inside Pennsylvania casinos.

Despite smoking being legal inside Pennsylvania establishments, Parx Casino supplies the only facilities that have completely banned indoor smoking. The debate is coming to a head, as Allegheny County Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel introduced a bill to ban smoking inside all Pennsylvania casinos.

Parx offers the only smoke-free Pennsylvania casinos

Under the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008, land-based PA casinos fall under an exemption. Casinos are allowed to designate 50% of the gaming floor for smoking.

Since Pennsylvania was under a mask mandate during the pandemic, its casinos had no choice but to ban smoking. When restrictions eased, just about all locations, except for Parx, decided to bring back smoking.

Oppenheimer told PlayPennsylvania in February, during its new Shippensburg grand opening, that it had received tons of feedback, from smokers included.

According to CDC Gaming Reports, Oppenheimer said last week:

“I think people tend to be much more wallet-constrained than time-constrained.”

Meaning, smokers don’t have a problem with spending a few extra minutes smoking outdoors, even if it takes them away from gaming. Back in February, Oppenheimer told PlayPennsylvania more specifically:

“What’s been interesting to me, is a lot of our smoking guests have actually said things like, ‘I never realized how smokey and annoying it was. I really don’t mind walking 50 feet out to the smoking patio.’”

Parx’s new facility in Shippensburg is also smoke-free.

Employee morale is high inside Parx Casino’s smoke-free environment

Oppenheimer mentioned during the panel discussion that Parx did not increase the premium for employee health insurance. He addressed Parx Casino’s healthcare costs in February:

“Frankly, we’re starting to see our healthcare costs going down.”

Since Parx became smoke-free, Oppenheimer noted during the panel discussion that he’s noticed a positive effect on the overall health of its employees.

“Our employee engagement surveys and employee morale have gone way up,” Oppenheimer said in February.

While morale and health have skyrocketed, so has the bottom line. Parx is the state’s top-grossing casino, generating $592 million in total FY 2022/2023 PA casino revenue.

State rep introduces bill to ban smoking inside all PA casinos

Frankel has formally introduced the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act to ban smoking in Pennsylvania casinos. Otherwise known as House Bill 1657, the objective is to eliminate exemptions put in by the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008 in the following venues:

  • Private clubs
  • Home daycare centers
  • Hotels
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) bars
  • Bars that do not serve food (or 15% of sales or fewer is from food)

Here are the next steps of the legislative process:

  • Committee chairman decides to hold bill or run it through committee
  • Sent to House floor with affirmative vote
  • Pass it on the House floor
  • Send to Senate to go through above steps
  • Send to Senate floor

Frankel introduced the bill last session but it did not pass through legislation. He’s hoping for a different result this time around.

“When you make the argument to my colleagues that people shouldn’t have to choose a good-paying casino job with benefits while jeopardizing their own health, that resonates with folks,” Frankel told PlayPennsylvania in June.

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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayPennsylvania bringing you comprehensive coverage of sports betting and gambling in Pennsylvania. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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