Legislators Debate Forcing Smoke-Free Pennsylvania Casinos

Derek Blake pic
Derek Blake
Casino News


  • Rep. Dan Frankel looks to repeal exemption allowing smoking in state casinos
  • Only 14% of Pennsylvania adults report smoking tobacco regularly
  • Rivers Casino in Philadelphia and Mount Airy Casino recently reinstated smoking

Democrat State Rep. Dan Frankel from Alleghany County hopes to repeal the state’s smoking exemption from the 2008 Clean Indoor Air Act. The law, signed by Gov. Ed Rendell, carved out a provision for smoking inside casinos, cigar lounges, private clubs, and establishments that generated over half their revenue from alcohol.

With a recent study showing that only 14% of Pennsylvania adults smoke tobacco regularly, Rep. Frankel reintroduced his legislative measure to repeal the exemption and ban smoking from all gaming locations. 

In Frankel’s memo to lawmakers, he noted that studies have also shown that by going smoke-free, gaming establishments are likely to attract more customers and create more overall revenue for the business. 

Along with banning smoking, lawmakers have set their sights on increasing taxable revenue by legalizing eSports Wagering.

Rep. Frankel Hopes to Repeal Exemption in 2024

Rep. Frankel ultimately hopes to repeal the 2008 Clean Air Act law exemption sometime in 2023. With just one out of seven Pennsylvania adults regularly smoking tobacco, the representative believes that most casino players want fresh air as they play blackjack, roulette, and slots.

The lawmaker attempted to repeal the exemption with House Bill 2466 during the last legislative session, but the measure failed to garner approval from the House Health Committee, effectively killing its chances of passage.

Frankel reiterated in his memo to lawmakers that secondhand smoke is dangerous to workers and staff in the state’s gaming locations.

“While the number of smokers has sunk, we’ve also concentrated the health risks of secondhand smoke to a few remaining, unprotected workplaces,” Frankel wrote to fellow lawmakers. “Casinos, private clubs, and some drinking establishments expose their workers to untenable health risks by taking advantage of loopholes in our Clean Indoor Air Act.”

Although Frankel failed to push through a statute last year, the democrat believes repealing the exemption remains essential for the well-being of the state’s gaming customers and workers.

“Pennsylvanians should not have to choose between their jobs and their health,” Frankel wrote in his memo.

Frankel could face opposition as going smoke-free recently met resistance from the Rivers Casino Philadelphia and Mount Airy Casino. Both casinos have recently reinstated indoor smoking to their facilities in response to customer backlash after both previously announced they were planning to eliminate smoking.

Derek Blake is a freelance writer that has covered the expansion of legal sports betting in America and the regional casino business for several well-known industry websites. During his writing career, he has written profiles on dozens of athletes and focused on the collision of sports and politics.