Players can light up again at Pennsylvania casinos as smoking ban is lifted

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Pennsylvania casinos may re-allow smoking after a temporary ban during the pandemic left them smoke-free for about a year.

When the state’s mask mandate was lifted on June 28, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), which oversees casinos, allowed gambling sites to re-allow its guests to smoke. The temporary smoking ban was originally implemented on June 9, 2020, with the aim of curbing the spread of covid-19.

James Gould of Ross, a regular at Rivers Casino, said he was happy to be able to smoke inside the casino again.

“People want to smoke,” he said as he smoked a cigarette outside the casino’s main entrance on Monday.

Under Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act, casinos are allowed to allow smoking – which most Commonwealth business enterprises cannot – with certain regulations. Smoking space cannot exceed 50% of the playing surface and there cannot be smoking indoors in any other part of the facility, said Doug Harbach, communications director for Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

“The PGCB cannot impose a smoking ban unless there is a safety reason,” he said. “Any changes to the smoking permit at PA casinos should be made through the legislature by amending the Clean Indoor Air Act.”

Brookline’s Irene Petrovich said she found it “nice” to smoke at the Rivers Casino. She said the lifting of the smoking ban inside casinos was “fabulous”.

Petrovich said she still frequented the casino every week despite the fact that smoking was prohibited inside. But she said she smoked less when she had to go out to smoke a cigarette.

Amanda Bennett of the North Side of Pittsburgh said she also prefers to smoke inside the casino.

“I love it because I’m a smoker,” she said of Rivers Casino once again allowing smoking inside. “It is more convenient.”

Live! At the Pittsburgh casino in Hempfield, smoking is now permitted on 25% of the casino floor, spokesman Doug Haniford said.

“Although smoking is restricted to certain areas, the comfort and well-being of our guests throughout the property is of the utmost importance,” said Haniford.

He said the Westmoreland Mall Casino has installed a new heating, ventilation and cooling system and has a copious air purification system to remove cigarette smoke odors.

“By limiting the areas where smoking is permitted and using a state-of-the-art air purification system, we are confident that we are providing a pleasant experience for all customers,” said Haniford.

Julia Felton is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, [email protected] or via Twitter .



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