End of an Era: Pennsylvania Considers Banning Smoking in Casinos

caleb tallman
Caleb Tallman
Casino News


  • PA considers banning smoking in casinos with the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act.
  • Proposed bill targets health risks of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Success of smoke-free Parx PA Casino sets a precedent.

The debate surrounding smoking in Pennsylvania casinos has been a contentious issue for several years. However, a proposed bill, the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act (House Bill 1657), introduced by Allegheny County Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel, may bring an end to indoor smoking in these establishments.

Throughout this article, we look at the details of the bill, its potential implications for Pennsylvania casinos, and the broader context of smoking regulations in public spaces all across Pennsylvania.

The Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act: A Smoke-Free Proposal

The Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act, commonly referred to as House Bill 1657, aims to close the loopholes that the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008 allowed for various facilities, including Pennsylvania casinos.

This proposed legislation could significantly impact several venues, including private clubs, home daycare centers, hotels, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) bars, and bars that do not serve food or derive 15% or fewer of their sales from food.

One of the key driving forces behind this bill is the Pennsylvania Coalition, comprising health experts and advocates from organizations such as Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The coalition strongly supports Rep. Frankel's initiative to protect workers and patrons from the health risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure.

The Journey Toward a Smoke-Free Environment

Rep. Dan Frankel's efforts to pass the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act involve a series of steps within the legislative process:

  1. Circulating the Proposed Legislation: Frankel initially shares the proposed bill with his colleagues, seeking co-sponsors to build support.
  2. Bill Introduction: The bill is formally introduced and referred to the Speaker of the House, who then directs it to an appropriate committee.
  3. Committee Review: The committee chairman decides whether to hold hearings on the bill and whether it should proceed through the committee.
  4. House Floor Vote: If the bill advances through the committee, it is presented for a vote on the House floor.
  5. Senate Consideration: After passing the House, the bill moves to the Senate, where it goes through a similar process, including committee hearings and a Senate floor vote.

Rep. Frankel believes that hearings will be held in the fall, allowing casino employees, executives, and legislators to provide their input. There appears to be increased support from casino employees, who are becoming more vocal about their preferences for a smoke-free environment.

Frankel is optimistic that the bill will pass in the current legislative year, emphasizing that the argument that individuals should not have to compromise their health for a well-paying job with benefits resonates with many of his colleagues.

Current Smoke-Free Casinos in Pennsylvania

As of now, both Parx PA Casino facilities, located in Bensalem and Shippensburg, remain smoke-free. While all Pennsylvania casinos temporarily banned smoking when they reopened in the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19 mask mandates, most gradually reintroduced smoking as mask rules were relaxed in various counties. However, Parx Pennsylvania Casino chose to maintain its smoke-free policy.

The decision has not adversely affected Parx PA Casino's business, as it reported the highest slot revenue, $389.9 million, during the 2022/2023 fiscal year. Parx's success demonstrates that a smoke-free environment can be financially viable for a casino. Additionally, Parx employees have expressed their satisfaction with working in a smoke-free environment, highlighting the health benefits associated with this policy.

Navigating Towards a Smoke-Free Future

The Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act represents a significant step towards a smoke-free environment in Pennsylvania casinos and other public facilities. With the support of the Pennsylvania Coalition and Rep. Dan Frankel's dedication to improving worker and patron health, there is a strong possibility that this legislation will pass in the coming year.

The experience of Parx Pennsylvania Casino, which has thrived as a smoke-free establishment, provides a valuable blueprint for other casinos to follow. As the bill progresses through the legislative process, Pennsylvania's casinos may soon enter a new era of cleaner, healthier indoor environments, aligning with modern expectations for public spaces.

A huge sports fan; locally, many know me as the guy who does the PA for our high school football team on Friday nights. Having grown up in Michigan, I am a sports fan of all the Detroit teams, and at the college level, I love Michigan State sports. I have covered sports betting, iGaming and casino industry news for many well known websites.