CEOs Urged to Put Action Behind Their Public Pledges to Listen to Employees

October 8, 2021

Las Vegas, NV — During a CEO panel on Wednesday at Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, leading chief executives were asked what the definition of success over the next year would look like. Here’s what they said:

“[MGM CEO Bill] Hornbuckle says it’s continuing to make MGM a place people want to be and work.

“[Seminole Gaming CEO Jim] Allen says success means being better listeners to employees and guests.”

Hornbuckle also noted that MGM is starting a six-week sabbatical program for executives to help them avoid burnout. Yet at the same time, CEOs across the industry are ignoring the pleas from casino workers — a largely Black, brown and female workforce — to stop forcing them to breathe secondhand smoke for hours on end as they work. That message was delivered loud and clear at G2E this week (see below).

“We are glad that gaming executives want to listen to their employees, and they have a chance to put action behind their words by listening to the compelling and heartbreaking stories of frontline casino workers who are currently forced to choose between their health and a paycheck,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Some executives are now getting six-week sabbaticals while frontline employees only get dangerous smoke-filled air. We urge them to back up their public pledges to listen to the employees who have driven record revenues — including at many casinos that were operating smokefree — and finally catch up with every other workplace by adopting a smokefree indoor air policy.”

FOX 5 Las Vegas: Workers Advocate for Smoke-Free Casinos at G2E
“Gaming industry workers say they want to do more casinos [go smokefree]…these casino workers are very passionate about their cause. They say that they shouldn’t have to risk their lives to get a paycheck. The Global Gaming Expo kicks off this week and it’s the biggest gaming event of the year. Casino workers came to the convention from Atlantic City to spread the message that smoking should not be allowed inside the casinos.”

Ch. 3 Las Vegas: Amid G2E, Anti-Smoking Groups Push for Casinos to Embrace the Cause
“[Nicole] Vitola is with the group CEASE — Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects. As a table games dealer at Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, she said frontline workers are suffering from the hazards of secondhand smoke. ‘Asthma, emphysema — my girlfriend just got diagnosed with COPD, she’s never smoked,’ said Vitola…advocates say workers should not have to decide between their health and a paycheck. And while the Gaming Expo is all about change, employees hope change is coming for them as well. Casinos that are transformed from smoke-filled, to smoke-free.”

Associated Press: Gambling Expo Returns, Masked and Vaccinated, to Las Vegas
“Nonsmoking advocates, in a separate event at the expo, highlighted successes they’ve had convincing lawmakers in some states and administrators of tribal lands around the country to make casinos smoke-free, and outlined efforts to get smoking banned in casinos in Nevada and, again, in New Jersey. ‘Workers should never have to choose between a paycheck and their health,’ said Cynthia Hallett, head of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights…’I couldn’t believe that after a year of fresh air, the smoke was coming back,’ LaMont White, an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino dealer for 36 years, told reporters Tuesday in Las Vegas. He said lawmakers should think of pregnant casino workers ‘forced to feed her unborn child secondhand smoke every day to make a living.’”

Ch. 13 Las Vegas: Workers Push for Smokefree Casinos in Las Vegas
“At a press conference today, an Atlantic City casino worker called for changes here in Nevada. ‘To the casino workers here in Nevada, we want you to know that we have strength in numbers and we don’t have to accept the status quo.’…Secondhand smoke disproportionately affect people of color and women here in Nevada because they are the ones who work most of the hospitality jobs.”

Ch. 4 Reno: Employees Push for Smokefree Casinos
“Casino employees are forming a new group called CEASE. It stands for Casino Employees Against Smoking’s Effects. They’re pushing for casinos to be smoke free. Some employees say they are suffering from breathing a lot smoke. This comes as [Park MGM] on the Strip went smokefree last September.”

US Bets: Atlantic City Casino Workers Take Their Anti-Smoking Message To Las Vegas
“But the casino employees hope to convince both [NJ Senate President] Sweeney and the general public that banning smoking in all public spaces except casinos is illogical, and that it puts countless workers at risk of contracting cancer and or suffering other harmful health effects from second-hand smoke. ‘There’s an unreasonable choice that too many gaming employees are forced to make every day — and that’s the choice between their health and a paycheck,’ said Cynthia Hallett, CEO of Americans For Nonsmokers Rights. ‘Their lives are more important than a few points on a balance sheet.'”

CDC Gaming Reports: Borgata Dealers, Health Groups Plead for Smoking Ban on Casino Floors
Pete Naccarelli worries that he won’t be around to sit with his wife and watch a sunset in their old age. Nicole Vitola tells of a coworker who must use an oxygen tank to walk between a table game pit and the dealers’ break room. Lamont White hopes to find a lawmaker who understands the plight of a pregnant casino dealer “who is forced to feed her child secondhand smoke.” The three, all longtime dealers for Borgata Casino in Atlantic City fighting to ban smoking on casino floors in New Jersey and elsewhere, spoke Tuesday at a news conference down a hallway from the bustle of the Global Gaming Expo, a premier event for the casino industry.

CDC Gaming Reports: John L. Smith: As casino industry recovers, this would once again be a good time for it to stop smoking
“So, I repeat: This would again be an excellent time to make that change. In a pandemic that has wrecked the lungs of so many people, that makes the timing more than excellent. It makes it perfect. And humane. And a sign that the industry as a whole is sensitive not just to customers with preexisting conditions today, but that it also understands that the aftermath of COVID is going to be felt for a generation.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal: G2E opens, showcases newest casino games, technology innovations
“Though not on the G2E program, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights held a morning news conference to underscore how allowing smoking at casinos disproportionately hurts the largely Black, brown and female workforce that makes up a majority of front-line casino workers — dealers, servers, table game supervisors — while gaming executives work in smoke-free offices. Three front-line casino workers from New Jersey gave their accounts of how customer smoking is affecting their health.”

NPR (Las Vegas & Reno): Advocates Highlight Smokefree Casinos, Push for More
“The event at the Venetian Expo center in Las Vegas has drawn up to 27,000 attendees in recent years. Non-smoking advocates held a separate event at the Expo on Tuesday to praise States and tribes around the country with smoke free casinos. They said they want a smoking ban in casinos across the country.”

Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit and