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Here’s how shareholders voted on one smoke-free casino proposal

Updated May 13, 2024 - 6:34 pm

Boyd Gaming shareholders resoundingly rejected a proposal to study the economic effects of smoke-free casinos in the first of three similar efforts across the gaming industry.

Clean-air and public health advocates suggested the Las Vegas-based gaming company commission and disclose a report on potential cost savings from implementing a smoke-free policy at its 28 U.S. properties. The Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation and health care provider Trinity Health put forward the proposal during the company’s annual shareholders meeting Thursday.

Seventy-six percent of shareholders rejected the proposal, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday.

The company suggested its shareholders vote against the proposal in proxy statements released in March. It suggested that smoking bans in the midwest and southern markets resulted in “negative customer churn.”

A Boyd representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other smoke-free proposals in front of shareholders will be voted on in the coming weeks. Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corp., which operated the Tropicana, will hold a vote on May 16. Caesars Entertainment, which operates eight Strip properties and about 40 others across the country, will hold its vote on June 11. Both companies recommended shareholders vote against the proposals.

Nonsmoking policy advocates said they intend to bring the proposal back next year.

“We’ve established an incredibly strong foundation from which to build — most proposals don’t even make it to a vote, let alone reach double digit-level support,” ANR Foundation president and CEO Cynthia Hallett said in a Monday news release. “With this issue now reaching the boardroom, companies cannot hide from this important matter that affects the health and well-being of their employees and guests. We are confident that we now have the attention of the highest level executives at not just Boyd Gaming but across the entire gaming industry.”

Smoke-free casino advocates are pushing in multiple areas to close Clean Indoor Air Act loopholes that exempt casinos and bars in Nevada and other states. Corporate proposals like these come around the same time as a court challenge with similar goals was filed in New Jersey. And a poll of Nevada voters found 58 percent said they would support banning smoking in casinos.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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