Bill banning smoking in PA casinos clears committee

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During the pandemic, many casinos went smokeless for a period of time. Now, there are many groups lobbying to make that change permanent.

Pennsylvania’s HB 1657 proposes to ban smoking in state casinos and bars. Rep. Dan Frankel brought the bill forward citing concerns related to employees and the second-hand smoke they are exposed to on property.

“We are on the path to creating strong legislation that protects our workers so they’re not put in the impossible position of choosing between their paycheck and their health,” Frankel told local outlet WTAE in September.

This week, the House Health Committee advanced the bill out of committee after attaching amendments that would continue to allow smoking in cigar bars and lounges in private clubs that meet certain filtration standards.

The committee voted 13-11 in favor of the bill. It now moves to the House, which will be in session again on Dec. 11.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh issued the following statement about the news:

“Currently, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh features designated smoking and nonsmoking areas of our gaming floor. All restaurants, BetRivers Sportsbook, Poker Room, The Event Center, banquet rooms and The Landing Hotel are nonsmoking. Decisions about smoking in Pennsylvania’s casinos are made by the State Legislature, and Rivers will, of course, comply with whatever the Commonwealth mandates.”

New Jersey has similar proposed legislation to make Atlantic City casinos smoke-free but it has not gained much traction.