Smoking in a Casino? Not in MGM Las Vegas — Shall Others Follow Suit?

MGM Resorts International, one of the last Las Vegas Strip resorts to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown, will be the first to become smoke-free, the company announced in a news release on Monday.

Park MGM opens doors again on Sept 30, Anton Nikodemus, president and chief operating officer of the 3,000-room venue, said. Nikodemus noted that the policy change comes after ongoing requests by guests.

The property features the upscale NoMad hotel, which will welcome visitors again, and the 5,200-seat Park Theater, which will remain closed until further notice.

According to Nikodemus, moving to smoke-free is not risky, especially in Las Vegas, where the demand for a non-smoking casino is growing. Smoking and secondhand smoke have been in the center of multiple lawsuits in Las Vegas in the past years, the COO noted.

Michael Green, a Las Vegas history professor at the University of Nevada, commented that people traditionally go to Vegas to do things that are bad for them and are not allowed to do them at home.

In prof. Green’s view, the novel virus makes us rethink many things, and maybe this is one of them. Prof. Green opined that maybe customers would quickly accept it now when they are required to wear face masks.

Neighboring Californa has already imposed strict smoking bans. In 2006, Nevada voters had to decide on two smoking initiatives. They finally passed the Clean Indoor Air Act to ban cigarettes in many public places, except for casinos, bars, strip clubs, smoke shops, and private residences. The other measure, supported by gambling and tavern industries, was rejected.

Advocates urged lawmakers to impose a smoking ban when casinos were allowed to reopen on June 4. However, the Nevada Gaming Control board declined to review the request. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak already mandated face coverings for all public places, including casinos.

Nikodemus also explained that the lockdown since mid-March allowed the hotel to renovate all the public places to prepare the venue for its new life as a smoke-free resort.

The hotel had its carpeting, and wall coverings replaced to let the customers indulge in the new experience. Nikodemus added that smoking would be allowed in dedicated areas outside Park MGM. He also said tobacco smoking is still not banned in some neighboring properties, including New York-New York and Aria.

MGM Las Vegas is not the first venue from the chain to prohibit smoking inside. MGM Resorts Springfield in Massachusetts and MGM National Harbor in Maryland already implemented a similar ban.

What do you think? Shall more hotels follow suit?