Kansas Casino Employees Voice Support for Bill to Ban Indoor Smoking


  • Only 10 states aside from Kansas allow smoking in casinos
  • A state law bans smoking in indoor public places except for casinos
  • A report stated that casinos with anti-smoking laws don’t suffer compared to those that allow smoking

Kansas is continuing the contentious fight against smoking inside casinos.

Workers at Kansas casinos cheered on the introduction of a bill that would make cigarettes illegal on gambling floors at local venues. The Sunflower State is one of just 11 states that still do not have legislation against smoking inside casinos. 

The Kansas House Committee on Health and Human Services is set to host a hearing for the bill next Wednesday, during which casino workers will be allowed to share their experiences and observations with committee members.

Closing a special provision 

House Bill 2622 aims to amend the state’s Indoor Clean Air Act, a law that went into effect in the middle of 2010. The rule bans smoking in public areas that are not enclosed and within 10 feet of doors to public buildings and all public indoor places—except for casinos.

A group called Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE), comprised of workers from the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Raceway, Kansas Star Casino & Resort, Boot Hill Casino, and Kansas Crossing Casino, helped lobby against the exception to the Indoor Clean Air Act. The group started in New Jersey in 2021 to fight against smoking inside Atlantic City Casinos after a temporary order was nixed by Gov. Phil Murphy following the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“For too long, casino workers like myself have had to endure the hazardous conditions of secondhand smoke, all in the name of a paycheck,” said Joe Hafley, security for the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway and founder of CEASE Kansas. “It’s not just about the cards, slots and profits; this bill is a beacon of hope for the hardworking people in our industry, signaling that our health and well-being matter. We should not have to choose between our health and a paycheck.”

House Bill 2058, a bill that intended to ban smoking in casinos, was introduced during the 2023 legislative session. Although it also received support from non-smoking lobbyists, it failed to garner the necessary support to be passed into law. 

Casino officials argued last year that outlawing smoking could lead to a decline in revenues for them and the state through declining taxi payments. However, a report from B2B company C3 Gaming noted that casinos in states that do not allow indoor smoking don’t suffer massive revenue declines and perform better than those that do allow smoking in the long term.

National fight to end smoking in casinos 

Despite the obvious negative effects of smoking, the fight to ban cigarettes from casinos is a never-ending battle.

Atlantic City, whose casino employees have been fighting against smoking for years, is still yet to pass any legislation. A Senate Bill advanced out of its first committee earlier this week but still has a long way to go before it overturns the law permitting smoking in 25% of indoor space.

Midwest states such as Iowa and Michigan also have provisions allowing smoking on casino floors despite it being illegal in other public indoor spaces. 

The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) said last year it has no official stance on the debate. 

According to KRGC reports, Kansas casinos combined to generate $37.4 million in revenue during December and $200.7 million for FYTD 2024.

Kansas opened its legal sports betting market in September 2022 and has quickly become a major player in the Midwest region. The state could also be in for a fruitful couple of months as the nearby Kansas City Chiefs prepare to clash with the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl and the Kansas Jayhawks look to win their second March Madness title in the last three years in spring.