The Rivers Casino in Portsmouth, Virginia enjoyed big crowds and a lot of buzz for its grand opening in late January. The casino floor is jammed with slot machines, table games, a poker room and sportsbook. By most accounts, folks had a great time on opening weekend. However, Rivers heard a ton of feedback from patrons about the smoky environment. Many complained of the poor air quality, even in the large non-smoking sections of the casino.
To address this, Rivers Casino is making some big changes to its smoking policy. Now, nearly half of the casino floor space is non-smoking, including both table games and slots. Combined with the restaurants, the sports book and poker room, now 80% of the facility will be non-smoking. How about vaping? Yep, same rules.
Smokers Vs. Non-Smokers
The debate around smoking in casinos has raged for decades. It’s a classic battle between the health concerns of many and the personal freedoms of individuals. Some people argue that allowing smoking in casinos creates an environment where non-smokers are subjected to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. On the other hand, some individuals argue that individuals should have the freedom to make their own choices, including the choice to smoke. Folks usually have strong opinions on the subject one way or the other. We think the casino is doing the right thing here. They need to foster an environment that’s welcoming to all. While it’s important to be respectful of others’ choices, if it becomes too nasty on the casino floor then people just aren’t going to show up anymore. Plus, one thing a lot of the individual freedoms crowd doesn’t always consider is how the workers are impacted. Imagine being a dealer and having smoke blown in your face for your whole shift? That’s gotta be annoying.
The Rivers Casino cost about $340 million to build. You better believe there was a lot spent on the HVAC system to keep the air fresh and clear for its customers. High-tech ventilation systems were installed to remove smoke from the air. These systems use a combination of air filters, fans, and air ducts to circulate fresh air. But even that hasn’t been enough.
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, the changes at Rivers Casino are happening. You could always sit in your home and smoke yourself silly while gambling online if that’s how you want to play. The changes put Rivers in a similar boat to most other casinos in the area. You can smoke if you want to, but only on certain areas of the casino floor. Will Rivers strike the right balance to cater to the masses?
If you’re looking for more options, but you still don’t want to trek all the way to Vegas to try your luck, check out all the other casinos in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.