The American Gaming Association (AGA) is the main trade lobby group for the U.S. casino industry. In May, 2007, the AGA announced an official neutral position regarding smokefree laws that include casinos. This was a big change from the AGAs years of staunch opposition to smokefree policies and previous lobbying partnerships with tobacco companies. While the AGA is neutral at the national level, a number of its state affiliates are still actively opposed to smokefree laws addressing gaming facilities.
"A year or two down the road there's not any public facility you're going to be able to smoke a cigarette in and that includes us [the casino/gaming industry]."
- AGA President and CEO Frank Fahrenhopf (a former Tobacco Institute lobbyist), May 9, 2007
The AGA's Executive Director Judy Patterson acknowledges that fighting smokefree laws "is an uphill battle," and noted that municipalities and states that previously exempted casinos are revisiting the issue and closing the loophole, such as Atlantic City and Colorado. "All the momentum is with the health groups This became one of those issues that could not be handled industry-wide."
The AGA's 2007 announcement followed the publication of its July 2006 White Paper on Ventilation. The White Paper included a cover letter addressing the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General Report finding that ventilation doesn't protect people from tobacco smoke. The AGA letter acknowledged, "While the gaming industry has actively worked to improve indoor air quality by installing state-of-the-art ventilation systems in newer and renovated properties, the [Surgeon General's] report concludes that any exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous, citing the inability of even the most advanced ventilation systems to mitigate the risks."
Now that AGA accepts the fact that casino workers will soon be on equal footing with protection from secondhand smoke in the workplace, it has the opportunity to help its members prepare for and implement smokefree legislation in a positive way.
AGAs Former History of Opposing Smokefree Air
Since the mid-1990s, the American Gaming Association pushed for Big Tobacco-inspired national building code and ventilation standards that would allow toxic secondhand smoke in buildings as part of acceptable indoor air quality. AGA was involved in numerous Philip Morris-created efforts to undermine indoor air quality standards. Click here to read the AGAs history on this issue.