Breaking News
More () »

Smoking woes of Rivers Casino Portsmouth: Guests divided on smoking inside

An advocate with Americans for Nonsmoker's Rights said the new ventilation systems do not protect against direct impacts of secondhand smoke.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The parking lot for Rivers Casino Portsmouth remained packed Thursday night as thousands of people visited the casino in hopes of winning some rewards.

"We came up from South Carolina, so it took us about six hours to get here," said Bobby Tillman. "We don't regret it."

However, several casino-goers raised concerns to 13News Now crews on site about the prominent cigarette smoke smell immediately when walking into the casino's front doors.  

Dozens of Google Reviews left behind describe the smell of smoke as "overwhelming." 

Under Virginia's Clean Air Act, smoking is allowed in any part of a casino except for restaurants.

Chris Moyer, an advocate with Americans for Nonsmoker's Rights, said the new ventilation systems do not protect against direct impacts of secondhand smoke.

"Even if the ventilation worked as advertised, if you are sitting just feet away from someone smoking then you will be inhaling it as well," said Moyer. "The smoke needs to rise before it is ventilated."

According to The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, "there is currently no available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air cleaning system that can adequately control and significantly reduce the health risks of [secondhand smoke] to an acceptable level.”

Moyer said his biggest concern is for those working directly on the casino floor.

"We know the effects of secondhand smoke, we know where it can lead, and there can be serious health effects for those consistently exposed," he said.

But, there are a few sections of gaming that are strictly non-smoking. A statement from a Rivers Casino spokesperson reads:

“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.”

Before You Leave, Check This Out