Park MGM Ventures into Uncharted Territory with Smoke-Free Casino

Park MGM

On September 30, the reopening of Park MGM was officially announced by the management. Speculations about the property's smoking policy upon reopening were rampant and gained credibility due to the circulation of a photograph depicting a sign. Word on the grapevine suggested that Park MGM might embrace a nonsmoking environment, providing a healthier and cleaner atmosphere for its guests. The rumors surrounding this potential change piqued the interest of many, elevating the anticipation for the reopening.

Back then, when the NBA and NHL were in search of bubble cities, there was speculation that Park MGM might be reserved to cater to teams, just in case. However, as it turned out, that scenario never came to fruition.

It was in 1991 that Silver City Casino made an attempt at being entirely nonsmoking, marking the first time a prominent Las Vegas Strip casino had done so.

MGM Resorts has already broadened its zones dedicated to nonsmoking guests.

When MGM Resorts reopened its Las Vegas casinos following the pandemic closures, they introduced dedicated sections for nonsmokers. I haven't noticed any alterations that would suggest a concern. One noteworthy change is the transformation of the entire Mirage poker room into a slots area for those who prefer a smoke-free environment.

MGM Resorts seems to be doing good enough to launch a completely smoke-free resort on the famous Las Vegas Strip. The potential benefits of the free promotion alone could make it a worthwhile venture.

The widespread popularity of smoke-free establishments throughout the nation.

When it comes to casinos going smoke-free on their own accord, the outcomes have been varied throughout the nation. One notable case that gained significant attention was the Revel casino in Atlantic City. Initially, it opened as a nonsmoking establishment but eventually introduced designated smoking sections. Despite Revel's ultimate failure, it doesn't appear that the smoking policy had a significant role to play in its downfall.

When Palace Casino in Biloxi reopened after Hurricane Katrina, it made a bold decision to go completely nonsmoking. This unique move set it apart from all the other casinos in the market, as it became the only one to cater exclusively to non-smokers. Since then, the company has consistently emphasized the positive impact this decision has had on the property.

In 2015, Ho-Chunk Casino in Madison, Wisconsin made the decision to become a smoke-free establishment. Since then, it has successfully maintained this policy up until now.

Park MGM stands out for its deviation from the widespread market smoking bans.

Park MGM stands out from other casinos in the market by making a distinctive decision, setting it apart from the rest.

I should mention that many states across the country enforce a mandatory no-smoking policy in their casinos, mainly due to local or state regulations. However, the impact of this policy on gaming revenues has been quite unfavorable in some instances. Back in 2009, the St. Louis Federal Reserve conducted a study and discovered a significant decrease in gaming revenues following the implementation of a statewide smoking ban in Illinois, which encompassed casinos as well. This decline was attributed to the fact that smokers opted to visit border casinos in neighboring states instead. Similar scenarios were observed in Colorado, Montana, and South Dakota, where the introduction of smoking bans resulted in a decline in gaming revenues.

It was about time for a gambling establishment to venture into this risky endeavor.

I always assumed that a Las Vegas casino would have already attempted this concept years ago, perhaps around five to ten years back. My expectation was that the pioneer in this endeavor would be a higher-end establishment catering to the local residents. Nevertheless, it is logical that a prominent company located on the famous Las Vegas Strip would take up the challenge. In such a scenario, the risks are considerably lower since customers have the option to select from the company's other properties, many of which are conveniently just a short stroll away. Thus, if a particular patron happens to be a smoker, they can easily switch to the adjacent casino without venturing into a different neighborhood.

I have a strong hunch that there will be more Las Vegas casinos embracing a nonsmoking policy in the future, but I believe it will be the casino company itself that initiates the change. In my opinion, a smoking ban in casinos lacks sufficient backing in Nevada to be enacted as law.