Maryland politicians push smoking to boost casino revenues

Maryland politicians push smoking to boost casino revenues

Monday, March 7, 2016 Totally Gaming
MGM said it had "no plans" for smoking areas at its new casino

Politicians in Maryland want to allow smoking in the state’s new MGM Resorts casino complex in a move that has angered campaigners and been dismissed by the operator itself.

Smoking is illegal in every other Maryland casino, and other premises that serve alcohol, but an exemption has been added to the bill that would set the liquor licence terms at the National Harbour casino once it opens in the last three months of this year.

It is suggested that the reprentatives who drafted the exemption want to promote the casino as a generator of state coffers, with Delegate Jay Walker telling the Baltimore Sun newspaper that he was concerned customers would continue to visit casinos in West Virginia, where smoking is permitted.

The bill would allow at least one cigar lounge of up to 2,000 square feet where drinks may be served. The bill, introduced by the Prince George's County delegation to the House of Delegates, is before Maryland’s House Economic Matters Committee. Members of the committee are expected to try to remove the provision from the legislation, which some say must pass if the casino is to open on time.

MGM said in a statement that it has "no plans to include a cigar lounge in the design for MGM National Harbour.

"The resort remains compliant with Maryland's smoke-free law," the company said. "We at MGM National Harbour are dedicated to ensuring a safe, healthy and comfortable environment for our employees and guests.”

Bonita Pennino, government relations director for the American Lung Association, said: “It puts the health of those casino workers at risk. That worker is in there for an eight-hour shift, so they're exposed to cigar-smoking for eight hours straight."

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