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Venetian, Palazzo change smoking policy. Critics call it a smokescreen

The Venetian and Palazzo are modifying their table game smoking policies to something similar to what Wynn Resorts Ltd. has been doing for years.

But representatives of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights say the policy is just a smokescreen for what resorts should be doing.

In a Wednesday internal memo, The Venetian and Palazzo indicated they’re going to allow table-game players to smoke, but provide non-smoking tables on a case-by-case basis.

“Beginning Monday, Nov. 6, the company will reinstate the smoking policy on the casino floor which will permit the smoking of cigarettes, cigars and vapes at all table games on the casino floors at The Venetian and the Palazzo,” the memo says. “As a reminder, the use or visibility of marijuana products continues to be strictly prohibited.”

But players also can request a table be smoke-free.

“For all guests who wish to have a smoke-free experience, a non-smoking table can be requested,” the memo says. “All requests must be brought to the attention of a table games supervisor or above.”

The company said in the notice that it is “always reviewing and improving our internal policies to remain competitive and strategic in our business decisions.” The company said it has received feedback on its smoking policy, prompting it to review its current procedures.

The policy switch is similar to an unadvertised program at Wynn and Encore Las Vegas that has been in place for years, a company spokesman said.

At Wynn properties, a player can approach a table with no other players and ask the dealer to designate it as a non-smoking table. The dealer would then place a no-smoking sign on the table designating it as non-smoking.

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a 47-year-old Berkeley, California-based nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of nonsmokers, said the policies aren’t enough to protect other players and casino employees.

“The notion of a partial smoking policy in casinos is a failed attempt to address the serious health concerns of casino workers,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of the organization.

“Secondhand smoke respects no boundaries, and allowing smoking in designated areas cannot cloak the pervasive risks it poses,” she said. “It’s also troubling that under Wynn’s policy, table game dealers must rely on the awareness of patrons regarding this unadvertised rule and hope that they opt for a smoke-free gaming experience.”

Smoking in casinos is a controversial topic in Nevada where there are no restrictions banning smoking. Only one resort property — Park MGM — has a smoking ban in place, imposed in 2020. In June, a 2,500-square-foot non-smoking gaming lounge with a separate entrance from the main casino debuted at downtown’s Plaza.

The Global Gaming Expo in October hosted a panel discussion on smoking in casinos. The lightly-attended panel included dialogue on a report that banning smoking hasn’t decreased revenue generation in locations where a ban has been imposed.

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights is advocating on behalf of New Jersey casino workers who are trying to close a loophole in legislation that permits smoking in casinos.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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