With three properties in Las Vegas now committed to reducing smoking, a question arises: Could all hotels and casinos in Sin City go smoke-free?
The travel industry can be very incestuous, so anything is possible. Witness the airlines. When one airline offers a fare reduction promotion, others quickly follow.
Vegas hotels are of a different breed, however. Between games of chance, comps, shows and accommodation – which can be extraordinary in luxury hotels – everyone is in competition and seeks to differentiate themselves. Playing against each other in the crowd of smokers versus non-smokers, it might be the responsibility of some hotels not to go in a smoke-free environment.
But The Cosmopolitan, along with Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, have all cracked down on smoking and could set a precedent in one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
Michael Green, associate professor of history at UNLV and historian of Nevada, said consumer reaction is likely to play a big role in deciding other casinos on the Strip to follow suit.
“Other casinos will follow if it works,” Green told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. “I have a feeling it will work, but that will be the question.”
Hotel owners and operators have a history to look at. From 1991 to 1994, the now closed Silver City Casino became a non-smoking hotel; it reverted to a smoking environment when hotel officials saw a noticeable drop in revenues.
But it’s also a different time, and a generation after Silver City Casino adopted (and then changed) its policy, much more has been learned about the dangers of smoking. Bo Bernhard, a professor at the College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and a gaming industry observer, said it only seemed a matter of time before other Las Vegas casinos followed suit. the example of Park MGM.
“Twenty years from now, it’s hard to imagine indoor public spaces with cigarette smoke,” Bernhard said.
One thing in favor of hotels is that they don’t have to jump through the hoops when it comes to setting policy. The Sun noted that under Nevada law, the decision to restrict or ban smoking at Strip casinos rests with the properties themselves. Mike Thoma, deputy general manager of Tropicana, said the decision of The Cosmopolitan, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas is worth watching.
“It remains to be seen how this will turn out,” he said.