Atlantic City council passes law to limit smoking in 11 casinos to part of the gambling floor

Wednesday, February 7th 2007, 9:36 pm
By: News On 6

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Smokers will still be able to light up in New Jersey's 11 casinos, but they will have a lot less room to do it under a city law passed on Wednesday.

The measure designates a quarter of each casino's gaming floor as a smoking area. It goes into effect April 15.

The City Council had been poised to enact a law that would have made New Jersey the largest gambling destination in the nation to ban smoking, but backed down after furious opposition from the casino industry, which feared the loss of 20 percent of its revenue and 3,400 jobs.

While the state Legislature passed a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars last April, but casinos were exempted.

The casino industry said it could live with the compromise because it imposes less of an economic hardship on them, but the decision left many casino workers and anti-smoking groups feeling betrayed.

``Every other restaurant, every other business, every other public place in New Jersey gets to breathe clean air except us,'' said Rona Bavuso, a cocktail waitress at Harrah's Atlantic City who says she has suffered ill health effects for years from breathing in secondhand smoke.

Companies with stakes in the Atlantic City casino smoking ban include Columbia Entertainment, Harrah's Entertainment, Boyd Gaming Corp., MGM Mirage and Trump Entertainment Resorts.