What’s Next For PA Casino Smoking Bill? ‘It’s Up To House Leadership’

Written By Corey Sharp on February 15, 2024
Photo showing a person negatively affected by cigarette smoke for a story about an update on the smoking bill that would ban indoor smoking at Keystone State casinos.

The issue of smoking inside Pennsylvania casinos has hit a wall. Progress was made late last year when the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act passed through the House Committee. As of now, the bill is sitting on the House floor with no timetable for a vote.

Pennsylvania casinos are one of the only indoor establishments where smoking is allowed.

No timeline for Pennsylvania smoking bill to move off House floor

Allegheny County Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel introduced the non-smoking bill, otherwise known as HB 1657, in September of last year.

The bill passed out of the House Committee last November after a 13-11 vote. Since then, there has been no movement.

PlayPennsylvania reached out to Rep. Frankel’s office to get an update. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of one. A spokesperson from the office said:

“It passed the committee in the fall, but hasn’t come up for a vote yet on the House floor. We don’t know when that will be, unfortunately. It’s up to House leadership.”

Frankel’s office told PlayPennsylvania that there are other bills to vote on before the House Committee returns to session on March 18. It is unknown if the smoking bill will be voted on that day. Despite the delay, Frankel’s office has not lost sight of the goal at hand.

“In the meantime, though, we have been working to ensure that we will have the votes to pass it on a bipartisan basis,” the spokesperson added.

PlayPennsylvania spoke with Rep. Frankel in November before the vote, where the lawmaker said he was “totally certain” the bill would pass, as he hoped the bill would land on Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk in March or April of this year.

That timeframe appears to be in jeopardy as of now.

When could the smoking ban bill pass in Pennsylvania?

Now that there is no exact timetable for the bill to go through the House floor, it is certainly looking like the back half of 2024 is when the bill could pass at the earliest. Here are all of the steps needed to pass the legislature:

  • Circulate a piece of proposed legislation among colleagues and ask to co-sponsor
  • Introduce bill and Speaker of House refers it to committee
  • Committee chairman decides to hold bill or run it through committee
  • Send to House floor with affirmative vote
  • Pass it on the House floor
  • Send to Senate to go through above steps
  • Send to Senate floor

The first four actions have been completed. There are three more to go, which could take several months.

PlayPennsylvania recently made a trip to a couple of casinos in Philadelphia last December. There were mixed reviews on the smoking issue. One guest at Live! Casino Philadelphia told us:

“It would suck (if smoking got banned). That’s what the world is going toward. I’m surprised I can still smoke here anyway.”

Another guest told us a smoke ban would increase his weekly visits to Live! Casino Philadelphia.

The bill challenges loopholes in the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008. Parx Casino Bensalem and Shippensburg are the only two facilities in the state that have stayed voluntarily smoke-free since the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s something the rest of the industry would need to get used to, should the bill pass sometime this year.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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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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