Slots influencer Brian Christopher (AKA BCSlots) has testified to the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in support of Atlantic City casino workers who are pushing for a complete ban on smoking on gaming floors.
According to current legislation, all workers in the state are entitled to work in a smoke-free environment. However, casinos have been using a legal loophole to allow patrons to smoke on the gaming floor. The loophole has existed now for the past 17 years and allows smoking on 25% of casino gaming floors.
Casino workers have garnered support from both lawmakers and high-profile names within the industry such as Christopher who recently launched the first smoke-free slots area in Downtown Las Vegas at the Plaza Hotel & Casino.
Brian shared a copy of his testimony with Gambling Industry News:
Good afternoon, and thank you to the members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify.
My name is Brian Christopher. I am the largest social influencer for Casinos in the world, known as Brian Christopher Slots. I post daily videos playing slot machines, reaching millions of avid casino visitors a month – with male millennials being my top demographic – the very customers casinos care deeply about and are desperate to attract. I’m one myself, by the way.
As part of my job, I travel across the country and partner with casinos to excite and educate the most vibrant, diverse, and deeply engaged community of players. So far, our videos have been viewed nearly a BILLION times over.
Now, imagine growing up in a world where walking into a room full of cigarette smoke is simply not normal. Throughout my travels, I have spoken to numerous new and younger employees at casinos that went smokefree over COVID who told me there was no way they would consider working there if they brought smoking back. If casinos truly do care about their patrons’ health, as they reminded us daily in the heat of the pandemic when they were compelled to implement measures to keep us safe, then there should be no room for smoke indoors. And if casinos truly do want to attract the next generation of players and workers, then the time is now, when only 13% of the population smokes.
I love New Jersey. In fact I’ve worked with numerous properties in Atlantic City, and I was the first streamer at the opening of Hard Rock. I am also a longtime proponent of smokefree casinos and the worker-led movement that CEASE has started right here in New Jersey.
But as of this year, I am only partnering with smokefree casinos. I do not promote smoking casino floors, period.
I made this decision after my staff and I, who work in casinos day in and day out, came down with weekly ailments and coughs – this made me feel responsible. After conducting a public survey of my followers, we found an overwhelming preference for smokefree casinos: 94% of frequent gamblers prefer smokefree casinos, including 88% of those who smoke. Among higher income and more frequent gamblers, a higher percentage of them are nonsmokers. Just this past week, I took 550 of my fans on a cruise that offered a smokefree casino on board. When I told them on stage that I would be addressing you today, the entire amphitheater erupted in cheers. So many of them, both smokers and non-smokers, came up to me privately and thanked me for speaking up on behalf of the community. They don’t understand why casinos are the exception for smoke. The math and the science are crystal clear, while a set of antiquated business fears just don’t add up.
Unfortunately, without a change in state law, I will not be visiting Atlantic City casinos, or using my platform to promote the otherwise fantastic entertainment experience they provide. While this means turning down some business opportunities, I believe in this cause – and my business continues to thrive. A lot of casinos that went smokefree during COVID and have remained smokefree are reaping the benefits.
Smokefree casinos ARE good for business and are preferred by players. The pandemic has changed everything around this issue. It is time to close the casino smoking loophole in New Jersey law and finally keep workers and guests safe from secondhand smoke.
Christopher also spoke to Gambling Industry News of the response to his testimony:
The response was super positive from those on the panel, and mostly supportive. Those on the ‘other’ side of the debate had nothing to add, aside from agreeing that smoking is bad and kills people. But that they ‘think’ it will cost jobs. If the pandemic showed us anything, it was that people still gambled. People go to casinos to gamble.
Smokers go to casinos to gamble too. They can smoke at home, but they want to gamble. If they can’t smoke while gambling, they will step outside.
Senator Vitale was amazing and is hopeful this will be brought to a vote within 2 months. It sounds like there is overwhelming support for this and it would pass, and the Governor also said he would sign it if it landed on his desk. So I’m very hopeful.
Support among lawmakers for a complete smoking ban is indeed at an all-time high with Sen. Joseph Vitale, the committee’s chairperson stating:
“It’s immoral for the owners of casinos to think their employees are expendable. If you smell it, it’s in your lungs.”
The Casino Association of New Jersey submitted written testimony outlining its opposition.
“An immediate smoking ban in New Jersey casinos, while smoking is still permitted in casinos in neighboring states, against the backdrop of an already weakened and worsening economic climate, would endanger thousands of jobs and jeopardize millions of dollars in tax revenue dedicated to seniors and the disabled of New Jersey.”
However, as Christopher suggested, the potential loss to revenue may not be as great as the association states. Several casino operators in other US states have taken the unexpected move to implement their own smoking bans despite no legal bans being in place. Rivers Casino in Philadelphia opted to uphold a smoking ban that was implemented during the pandemic. The move followed a similar announcement from Parx Casino meaning that there are now five casinos in Pennsylvania alone that prohibit smoking on the casino floor.