Non-Smoking Group Says Progress Being Made Despite Valley Forge Casino Vote

Written By Corey Sharp on May 15, 2024
Close-up of smoking cigarette held between a man's two fingers. Americans for Nonsmokers Rights says the fact Valley Forge Casino investors even considered studying going smoke-free is a promising sign.

Boyd Gaming stakeholders have voted against a study that would evaluate the performance of its properties, including Valley Forge Casino in Pennsylvania, if they went smoke-free.

A resounding 76% of investors rejected the proposal, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this week.

Despite the vote being in favor of smoking, the fact there was a vote means the smoke-free casino movement is picking up momentum. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two states that are leading the charge in attempting to ban smoking inside casinos.

PlayPennsylvania reached out to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. Director of Advocacy, Bronson Frick, told us:

“This vote by Boyd Gaming shareholders sends a strong message to the board of directors and to the gaming industry that there is investor support for studying the business benefits of implementing a smoke-free indoor air policy.

“Today, nine out of 10 people are nonsmokers, including the vast majority of customers and employees. More than 20 states already require commercial casinos to be non-smoking indoors in addition to more than 100 sovereign Tribal gaming venues.

“Numerous states including Pennsylvania are actively moving smoke-free bills with thousands of casino workers speaking up for smoke-free indoor air to ensure the health and safety of workers and customers. Casino ventilation systems and smoking sections do not address the health hazards of secondhand smoke.”

Boyd Gaming shoots down smoking study, creates conversation

Allegheny County Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel is spearheading a bill which would eliminate smoking inside Keystone State casinos. Amendments to the bill were most recently pulled from the agenda as it sits on the House floor.

As momentum to ban smoking picks up, stakeholders of companies are beginning to at least bring up the discussion.

Boyd Gaming operates 28 casino properties across Las Vegas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, including Valley Forge Casino. Boyd Gaming issued the following statement last month after the vote:

“The proposal asks for a report on implementing a smoke-free policy, but we believe this proposal is the first step toward forcing our company to unilaterally adopt such a policy, regardless of the actions of our competitors.”

PlayPennsylvania reached out to Valley Forge Casino asking if it is currently considering or has considered going smoke-free. The property did not immediately respond.

Parx Casino’s locations in Bensalem and Shippensburg are the only properties in the Keystone State that have remained voluntarily smoke-free since the pandemic.

Other Keystone State casinos to hold smoking votes

Two more prominent gaming companies are slated to hold votes regarding the issue of smoking. According to the Las Vegas Journal ReviewBally’s Corp. is scheduled for later this week, while Caesars Entertainment is on June 11.

Caesars owns and operates Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, which has always been a smoking facility.

The fact that more and more gambling companies are starting to talk about the effects of smoking is a positive sign.

Once the bill starts to move in Pennsylvania and potentially gets passed, stakeholders in gaming companies won’t have a say when it comes to smoking.

Going smoke-free has worked for Parx Casino Bensalem, which is the top-grossing property in the Keystone State.

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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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