PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Since Rivers Casino Portsmouth opened Monday, casino-goers have posted a slew of Google reviews mentioning a prominent smell of cigarette smoke.
Casino-goers voiced complaints about the smell to 13News Now crews on-site and online.
The casino marks the first fully operational and permanent casino in Virginia. Under the Commonwealth’s Indoor Clean Air Act, the state allows smoking inside "any part" of facilities licensed to conduct gaming.
But the smell of smoke isn't just agitating casino-goers in Virginia. A Pennsylvania legislator is pushing for a casino smoking ban after complaints about second-hand smoke by employees at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, WTAE reports.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Dan Frankel introduced the Protecting Workers From Secondhand Smoke Act in the state's House of Representatives session last year, but it failed. He plans to present his bill again this year.
The act aims to "eliminate loopholes that leave [casino] workers exposed to cancerous secondhand smoke, expand the definition of smoking to include e-cigarettes, to combat the increase in vaping-related illnesses, and give all localities the ability to enact smoke-free ordinances that are more protective than state law."
Now, the lawmaker is garnering support from a coalition of casino workers fighting for the smoking ban called CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoke Effects), according to WTAE.
WTAE reported that employees at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh have joined this coalition to fight against smoking in casinos.
"Casino employees shouldn't have to pick between their jobs or their health. It's time to close the Clean Air Loopholes," Rep. Frankel wrote on Twitter in March.
WTAE's report included a statement by Rivers Casino issued in response to mounting attention and concern:
"Currently, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh features designated smoking and nonsmoking areas of our gaming floor. All restaurants, BetRivers Sportsbook, Poker Room, The Event Center, banquet rooms and The Landing Hotel are nonsmoking. Decisions about smoking in Pennsylvania's casinos are made by the State Legislature, and Rivers will, of course, comply with whatever the Commonwealth mandates."
In response to complaints of the smell of cigarette smoke at Rivers Casino Portsmouth, a spokesperson sent the following statement to 13News Now on Tuesday:
“Rivers Casino Portsmouth has designated non-smoking areas throughout the facility, including all restaurants, BetRivers Sportsbook, The Sound Bar, Topgolf, and the poker room.
We’re grateful for the community’s support of our grand opening and always welcome feedback from our guests.”