Smoking Indoors at Crown Melbourne Casino Could Be Banned
Crown Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, is the only casino where indoor smoking is still permitted. However, if lawmakers approve new legislation, that could soon change and the Crown Resorts casino would become entirely smoke-free.
Australia began eliminating smoking in most indoor public places, such as bars and some gaming rooms, beginning two decades ago. However, there were certain exceptions. For example, casino operators in certain states received a pass to allow their high rollers to smoke in VIP spaces.
Since then, virtually all casinos have gone smoke-free. Now, 15 years after Victoria banned smoking in virtually all other indoor public spaces, it may force Crown Melbourne to follow suit.
Extinguish the Smoking Lamp
Victoria is in the process of launching new gambling laws in response to the debacle Crown and Star Entertainment have caused in Australia. Among them is the possibility of a ban in Crown’s VIP rooms, which would mirror similar bans in other states across the country.
Crown, as well as other casino operators, have repeatedly fought to stop lawmakers from implementing bans on smoking. They claim that it hurts their bottom line as smokers give up their trips to the casinos. However, given the changing sentiment toward smoking and Crown’s current status, there likely won’t be much argument.
In addition to the no-smoking rule, Victoria is considering other changes to improve its gambling image. For example, cashless gaming and mandatory time limits on gaming machines are on their way.
There are also stricter anti-money laundering (AML) countermeasures coming. These are a direct result of the admission by both Crown and Star that they sometimes ignored AML rules before.
Legislators are now considering all of the options on the table and will soon issue their decision. All approved reforms will need to be in place by the end of 2025. However, some, including the smoking ban, could arrive sooner.
Negligible Revenue Impact
Cancer Council Victoria, a non-profit cancer awareness group, is lobbying legislators for the approval of the smoking ban. It has launched a public campaign to put pressure on lawmakers to act, asserting that the government has had more than enough time to “do the right thing.”
The argument that smoking bans lead to revenue losses isn’t supported by studies. For example, Pennsylvania’s Parx Casino and Mount Airy Casino have been smoke-free for more than a year. Both have seen double-digit revenue increases consistently. Michigan and other states that have smoking bans have seen similar results.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020 found that only 12.5% of US adults smoke. That is less than two-thirds the level it was 50 years ago.
As a result, the segment of gambling smokes is much smaller than before. Therefore, it doesn’t contribute as much revenue to casinos as it once did.
This is supported by another recent study by C3 Gaming, a market research company. It found that “non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.”
The company also highlighted a secondary benefit that others have pointed out. An indoor smoking ban automatically increases responsible gaming. This is because smoking gamblers have to take a break in order to light up.
Charles Livingstone of Victoria’s Monash University highlighted this in a study he authored. He pointed out that, after Victoria cut off smoking in the common areas of Crown Melbourne, there was a 15% drop in the overall gambling expenditure.
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