Yet Another Tribal Casino Goes Smokefree–Even As Other COVID Restrictions Are Lifted

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Wisconsin Offers Latest Evidence that Going Smokefree is Good for Business

May 27, 2021

Berkeley, CA — The smokefree casino trend continues to grow as yet another Tribal casino, operated in Wisconsin by the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, announced it will operate smokefree — even as it lifts other COVID-related restrictions.

“Forest County Potawatomi and the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee have historically contributed a lot to the state of Wisconsin, but now their impact will go a lot further by helping influence other Tribal casinos–small and large–to enact permanent smokefree policies,” said Clinton Isham, Tribal relations consultant for Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Potawatomi Hotel & Casino will return to many of its normal operations as the City of Milwaukee pandemic health order lifts but the property will remain smoke-free. Potawatomi will lift many of its COVID-19 protocols Tuesday, the casino announced in a news release Wednesday. But it has decided that it will continue to be a smoke-free property. The property, operated by the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, was not included in the statewide indoor smoking ban that went into effect in 2010. Guests will now only be able to smoke in designated outdoor areas near the Northern Lights Theater and near entrances.”

Potawatomi Hotel & Casinos is among at least 160 Tribal casinos operating smokefree. Among those Tribes is the Navajo Nation, whose casinos reopened smokefree in April. “We’re not in a rush to go to smoking again,” said Brian Parrish, interim chief executive officer of Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. “We would love to see the industry transition as a whole to non-smoking.” Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison, also in Wisconsin, went smokefree in 2015 and has set revenue records in several consecutive years.

More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, 23 states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and nearly 1,100 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors. Opinion research routinely, and increasingly, shows the vast majority of guests prefer smokefree indoor casinos. That’s not surprising considering that among young adults, 90 percent are nonsmokers.

A new report released earlier this month by the American Gaming Association (AGA) shows that even as hundreds of casinos in nearly half of all states operated smokefree from January through March of 2021, the commercial industry generated an increase in revenue of four percent compared with the same timeframe in 2019. The AGA finds the industry’s “Q1 2021 revenue beat pre-pandemic totals from Q1 2019, matching the gaming industry’s highest-ever quarterly revenue total.” In Atlantic City, casinos reported generating 11% greater profits while operating smokefree in the first quarter of 2021, compared with the same period in 2019.

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 and