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Gov. Murphy bans smoking indoors at casinos
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Gov. Murphy bans smoking indoors at casinos


Like the rest of Atlantic City’s casinos, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is operating with reduced capacity and no indoor dining, smoking or drinking on the gaming floor. Masks must be worn by everyone on the property, guests’ temperatures are taken upon arrival and social distancing guidelines are being adhered to, with polycarbonate dividers at table games and every other slot machine turned off.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday ordered a ban on all smoking inside casinos, the same day it was to have been allowed to resume after more than five months.

“I am announcing we will take administrative action to prohibit smoking in indoor casinos. We have looked closely at the science and agree with experts that have concluded that allowing smoking is too large a risk to take,” Murphy said at his press conference.

Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both D-Atlantic, welcomed the announcement.

“As we work to combat the spread of a virus that’s easily transmissible through the air, temporarily banning smoking in casinos is the best decision for the safety of workers and patrons alike,” the two said in a written statement.

“Prohibiting smoking will make it easier for casinos to filter clean air, which experts agree is key to slowing the virus’s spread in indoor spaces,” the legislators said.

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Murphy on Tuesday issued an executive order that allowed the resumption of indoor dining as well as beverage services on casino floors and the resumption of smoking indoors at places it was already allowed. The decision on the smoking raised health concerns from employees and guests.

“I felt safe at first coming back with all the (security measures in place),” said a casino dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity because casino employees are not authorized to speak directly to the media. “Now, how is letting indoor smoking safe? Not only to us, but our families and our nonsmoking guests. ... I feel like no one cares about us.”

Per COVID-19 regulations before Murphy’s announcement Friday, guests had to wear a mask when not smoking or drinking on the casino floor and had to remain seated while doing so.

Now the masks can only come off for drinking on the casino floor.

By local ordinance, casinos are allowed to have smoking on 25% of the gaming floor at both table games and slot machines.

A 2008 Atlantic City visitor profile survey (no such study has been conducted since) performed by Spectrum Gaming Group for the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority found that 23% of casino customers smoke. As of 2018, the CDC estimated that less than 14% of Americans smoke.

Atlantic City casino dining guide, everything you need to know before Labor Day

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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