Aiming to Clear the Air in Pennsylvania Casinos, House Bill 1657 Goes for Vote on November 15

Pennsylvania is close to enacting more stringent non-smoking laws within its casino walls. House Bill 1657, pushed by Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County, targets the smoke-filled rooms of the state’s gambling venues. This bill, also known as the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act, is set for a vote next week on November 15 and intends to seal the gaps in the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2008.

Rep. Frankel, who chairs the health committee, is at the forefront of this initiative. He has pushed the bill through its preliminary hurdles and is now rallying support from fellow lawmakers to co-sponsor the transformative legislation. The health committee will convene next week for a pivotal discussion on the bill, where members can propose and vote on amendments.

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Why This Push?

The impetus behind the bill is a collective desire for a healthier casino environment for both workers and visitors. Rep. Frankel, bolstered by the initial support, is optimistic about the bill’s future. He anticipates Governor Josh Shapiro’s endorsement by spring, a sentiment that mirrors his commitment to the health of Pennsylvanians.

“PlayPennsylvania” quoted Frankel’s confidence in the bipartisan backing of the bill, as he stated, “I don’t bring a bill forward unless I know it’s going to be successful.” The forthcoming health committee meeting is crucial, as it will determine the bill’s trajectory.

Industry Implications and Support

The narrative for a smoke-free casino environment finds strong backing from the industry itself. Parx Casino, a frontrunner in this endeavor, has proven that a smoke-free policy can coincide with a thriving business. Marc Oppenheimer, the CMO of Parx, has acknowledged the positive outcomes of their smoke-free stance, including happier staff and lower health-related expenditures.

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Rep. Frankel asserts the benefits are twofold: employees enjoy a healthier workplace, and non-smokers get a more pleasant gaming experience. He reassures smokers that online gaming platforms offer an alternative space to indulge without impacting the health of others.

Despite previous challenges and concerns about potential dips in revenue, proponents like the CEASE group and some forward-thinking casinos are advocating for the health and well-being of casino employees and patrons. With the legislative process in motion and support on the rise, Pennsylvania is edging toward a future where clean air in casinos isn’t a gamble—it’s a guarantee.

In other news this week, Representative Mark Rozzi and Senator Amanda Cappelletti, proposed legislation to outlaw uncontrolled “skill” slot machines in the state, as part of their safer gambling campaigns.

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