As Industry Celebrates Responsible Gaming Education Week, Caesars Fails to Meet Criteria of a Responsible Corporate Actor
September 22, 2021
Berkeley, CA– Citing the company’s staunch opposition to smokefree indoor policies, advocates for smokefree casinos are calling on Newsweek to remove Caesars Entertainment from the publication’s 2021 list of “America’s Most Responsible Companies.”
In a letter to Newsweek, Cynthia Hallett, President and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said that a company that has spent decades opposing smokefree policies and subjecting their workforce to secondhand smoke should not receive this recognition.
“We commend your recognition of companies that are leaders in corporate social responsibility and those that have continued to do right by their customers, employees and communities. However, due to the company’s relentless objections to indoor smokefree policies that protect workers and guests alike from the well-established health risks of secondhand smoke, Caesars is an odd choice for such recognition and certainly should not be listed number one among the entertainment, leisure and dining industry,” wrote Hallett. “There is nothing responsible about exposing a large, diverse workforce to secondhand smoke as a condition of employment in the hospitality sector.”
Referencing the casino gaming industry’s diverse workforce, the letter notes that Caesars has reverted to pre-pandemic smoking policies that leave frontline workers most at risk.
“Not only are Caesars’ indoor smoking policies at odds with basic public health principles, they also disproportionately impact Black and brown frontline casino workers who have helped carry the gaming industry as it set revenue records in recent months,” wrote Hallett. “It is unconscionable that Caesars is defending harmful indoor smoking policies, especially in the midst of a respiratory-centric pandemic that has exposed and severely exacerbated health disparities among communities that largely make up the industry’s frontline workers. Such actions must be taken into consideration as Newsweek calculates Caesars Entertainment’s ‘social score,’ which includes their commitment to employees and the support for women and people of color in their workforce.”
The letter also points out the connection between indoor smoking policies and gambling addiction, an issue that the gaming industry is focused on this week as part of Responsible Gaming Education Week.
“Further, permitting smoking indoors and targeting people with a nicotine addiction only feeds into the addictive nature of slot machines and keeps guests who need a break tied to those machines. As one former Atlantic City gaming executive said: ‘If the customer’s time playing is inhibited by the need to take a smoke break in a non-smoking casino their game cycle is broken and they may not return.’ Putting profits over guests’ potential gambling addiction is anything but responsible,” she wrote.
Read the full letter here.
More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas strip. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, nearly half of all states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and nearly 1,100 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in March that smokefreee casino policies implemented over the last year have been a “silver lining” of the pandemic.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.