Poll: NJ residents prefer limited casino smoking over full ban
No matter one's political party, New Jersey voters appear content with the number of casino options in the state, and the rules related to smoking inside those casinos.
According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll released on Thursday, New Jersey respondents across party lines oppose the expansion of casinos outside of Atlantic City and are on board with limited smoking to certain areas of a casino, as opposed to a complete smoking ban.
A tiny majority, 51% of respondents, said that they oppose the expansion of casino gambling outside of the resort city. Thirty-seven percent said they favor the move.
Opposition was cited by 50% of Democratic respondents, 54% of Republicans, and 53% of independents.
"Competition from new casinos opening soon in New York City and the endless search for new sources of revenue mean that there's a lot of pressure to open new casinos in Jersey," said Dan Cassino, executive director of the poll. "But if the state wants those casinos, they're going to have to change a lot of minds."
Any expansion of casinos would require a public vote at the polls. New Jersey voters rejected the proposed change in 2016, 77 to 23.
Smoking ban in Atlantic City casinos
Currently, New Jersey casinos can permit smoking on a quarter of their gaming areas.
Casinos are among the businesses that were not included in New Jersey's 2006 ban on smoking in indoor areas. Responding to the threat of COVID, smoking was banned at Atlantic City's casinos for several months and was permitted again in July 2021.
In the new FDU poll, 57% of New Jersey residents said they support limiting smoking to certain areas of the casino. Twenty-nine percent expressed support for a complete smoking ban, and 12% said smoking should be allowed anywhere in a casino. Partisanship had no real impact on views.
"This is a balancing act," Cassino said. "Smoking bans protect workers from secondhand smoke, but no one wants to risk hurting the casino's bottom lines and having to bail out Atlantic City. Again."
The group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, which works with Atlantic City casino workers on this topic, criticized the FDU poll for a "vaguely worded" question that does not include the possibility of outdoor smoking areas, such as gambling patios.
Legislation to add casinos to New Jersey's ban does exist and is waiting for action. Gov. Phil Murphy has indicated that he'd sign such a bill.