Bally’s Rhode Island Casinos End Table Game Smoking After Dealers Speak Up
Bally’s casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, R.I., no longer allow gamblers at table games to smoke.
The Bally’s Corporation quietly decided to end table game smoking at its two Rhode Island casinos after workers spoke out in support of legislation in Providence to end the clean indoor air loophole provided to casinos. State Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D- Narragansett, South Kingstown) has introduced a bill that would require the state’s two commercial casinos to go fully smoke-free.
The legislation — House Bill 7855 — has gained seven cosponsors. The effort has also garnered the backing of the Laborers International Union of North America Local 271, which represents the majority of the workforce at the Bally’s properties.
Bally’s has since placed no smoking signs at its tables. Gamblers playing blackjack and other games must now move to a designated smoking area. The casinos have made no mention of the change on their websites or social media channels.
Customers who wish to smoke must leave the table and use a smoking receptacle on the outer perimeter of the table games area,” Patti Doyle, a Bally’s spokesperson, told The Providence Journal. “We have posted signage and ashtrays have been removed at the tables.”
The two Rhode Island casinos were recently rebranded after their parent owner/operator — Twin River Worldwide Holdings — renamed its corporation to Bally’s after buying the iconic casino brand from Caesars Entertainment in 2020.
Smoke and Mirrors?
Bally’s eliminating table game smoking is a win for dealers who voiced frustration with being forced to work in such a hazardous environment. But there might be more to the casino operator’s decision.
While Bally’s is no longer allowing smoking at the tables, indoor casino smoking remains in select areas. That’s far different than what Tanzi’s HB 7855 seeks to accomplish.
The smoke-free gaming bill would require that Bally’s Lincoln and Tiverton mandate smokers to go outside to light up. Along with the casinos, indoor smoking exemptions for pari-mutuel facilities would also be repealed.
HB 7855 would strike the casino and pari-mutuel smoke-free exemption from the Rhode Island Public Health and Workplace Safety Act. The law would take effect immediately following the governor’s signature.
Casinos Urge Caution
Bally’s is amid a $100 million expansion of its Lincoln resort that will result in 40,000 square feet of additional gaming space, an entertainment venue, a Korean day spa, and various cosmetic improvements throughout the property. The company says it is also implementing a new air circulation system on the casino floor.
Bally’s Lincoln General Manager Craig Sculos spoke last month before the Rhode Island Finance Committee regarding HB 7855 and why it would be bad for business at the two casinos.
Sculos said a fully smoke-free casino would generate less gaming revenue. And that, according to him, would generate a “trickle-down” effect leading to depressed revenue resort-wide, including at the hotels and restaurants.
The casino exec advised lawmakers to find a solution that appeases workers’ concerns but also doesn’t turn away longtime patrons.
“The real goal is a bridge,” Sculos said. If not, he cautioned that “there will be an impact, and it will be averse to revenue.”