CASINOS AND SLOTS-AT-RACETRACKS
In Ontario, the only establishments that can apply for gambling licenses are commercial casinos, charity casinos, First Nations casinos and slots-at-racetracks. At this time, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) owns and maintains authority over 3 commercial casinos.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which was established in 1998 under the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act. 1996, regulates the sale, service and consumption of beverage alcohol and functions to ensure casino and charitable gaming is conducted in a responsible manner.
By definition in the Gaming Control Act. 1992, a gaming facility is a public place used to play or operate games. There are currently 25 casino and slots-at-racetracks facilities in Ontario, which are divided as follows:
- 3 commercial (1 First Nations)
- 7 charity (2 First Nations)
- 15 slots-at-racetracks
It is important to note that while some of the casino and slots facilites are regulated by their municipal smoking bylaws, others have their own smoking policies which may be different - but not in conflict - with applicable municipal smoking bylaws. Furthermore, when there are restrictions on bars and restaurants, those restrictions apply to any bars and/or restaurants located within the casino or slot facility. Click here to view the various smoking policies of individual facilities.
- 16 are regulated by municipal bylaws (and may or may not be mentioned specifically in bylaw);
- 5 are exempt from the bylaws;
- 2 are not covered by the current municipal bylaw and;
- 3 are First Nations casinos meaning any smoking bylaws are not applicable.
There are two slot-at-racetrack facilities with sunset provisions for becoming 100% smoke-free: Mohawk Raceway will be smoke-free 01/01/09 and Flamborough Downs will be smoke-free 06/01/08.
Commercial gaming is currently managed and operated by the First Nations, Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples, although they are still in their formative years. The First Nations casinos are located on First Nations land, making them inaccessible to regulation and making any existing municipal smoking bylaw non-applicable. As such, all First Nations casinos in Ontario allow unregulated smoking at this time:
- Casino Rama - Simcoe
- Golden Eagle Charity Casino - Kenora
- Great Blue Heron Charity Casino - Durham
Casino workers in several jurisdictions have experienced significant health problems from exposure to second-hand smoke in their workplaces. In Australia, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) has been conducting an intense campaign directed at the Victoria state government, to secure passage of smoke-free laws in gaming areas in the state (see the LHMU website and go to the union's 13 March 2002 newsletter).
Elsewhere, casino employees in the state of Louisiana have been awarded $2.6 million (US) in a class action suit related to poor ventilation and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in their workplace. The complete text of the settlement is available from the OCAT office.
In a case involving casino worker Andrea Skinner from Halifax- who quit her job because of second-hand smoke - a federal Employment Insurance (EI) board of referees ruled in April 2003 that she was eligible to receive EI benefits based on sufficient medical evidence to substantiate the hazards of second-hand smoke. She was an employee at the Casino Nova Scotia, which along with the casino in Sydney, N.S., is exempt from the province’s no-smoking law.
Numerous studies in a variety of workplace exposure settings have clearly demonstrated that hospitality workers in general, and gaming workers in particular, suffer extremely high levels of exposure on a routine basis, and that elimination of second-hand smoke exposure from the workplace results in immediately detectable respiratory health benefits.
Below is a list of relevant articles:
- Metabolites of a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen in nonsmoking casino patrons. Anderson, K, Kliris, J, Murphy, L. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention Dec 2003; 12(12): 1544-46.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke and excess lung cancer mortality risk among workers in the "5 B’s": bars, bowling alleys, billiard halls, betting establishments, and bingo parlours. Siegel, M and Skeer, M. Tobacco Control. 2003; 12:333-338.
- Exposure of casino employees to environmental tobacco smoke. Trout, D. et al., J. Occup Environ Med. 198; 40(3):270-76.
- Exposure of hospitality workers to environmental tobacco smoke. Bates M.N., et al. Tobacco Control. February 2002; 1: 125-129.
- Bartenders' Respiratory Health After Establishment of Smoke-Free Bars and Taverns, Eisner MD, et al. Journal of the American Medical Association. December 1998; 280(22): 1909-1914.
There are several significant problems facing any municipality wishing to regulate a casino within its jurisdiction:
- The community invariably receives significant revenue from the casino, which makes councillors reluctant to demand smoke-free status for these establishments;
- In some instances, casino management have said publicly that they would comply with any smoke-free requirements placed on them by the municipality, but then have lobbied privately, and successfully, to avoid such restrictions;
- Again in some instances, casino workers have been told that if they speak publicly about their Second-hand smoke exposure concerns, they will be disciplined or fired;
- The common economic arguments are usually raised about the high percentage of casino patrons being smokers and the devastating impact smoke-free regulations would have on casino revenues (significant portions of which are provided to the communities in which they are located);
- Most Ontario casinos are not unionized; the Windsor casino has not seen any vigorous actions by the Canadian Auto Workers Union to address the smoke-free issue with management (despite the CAW's stated policy that smoking in the workplace should be eliminated - To view a press release from President of CAW Buzz Hargrove re: second hand smoke in the workplace, click here).
SMOKE FREE FACILITIES IN ONTARIO
The Brantford Charity Casino
The entire City of Brantford including the casino - after protest from local bar and restaurant owners for its inclusion - went smoke-free September 1, 2002. Initially, there was no reported loss of business from the casino as a result of the city’s clean-air bylaw. However, by early 2003 reports were showing a significant drop in revenues. The city’s five per cent share of slot-machine revenues in the fourth quarter of 2002 was $895,804, down about 22 per cent from $1.14 million in the last three months of 2001 ("Smoking Ban Blamed for Dip in Casino Cash", Brantford Expositor, January 21, 2003, pA1).
In response to the decline in revenue, the casino made a decision to install a designated smoking room, which occupies approximately 30 per cent of the gaming floor. A recent report shows an increase in revenues for the first half of 2003 - although still lower than previous to the bylaw - but officials remain reluctant to attribute the loss/gain solely to the bylaw being implemented ("City Gets ‘Good News’ from Casino: Revenue Shows Improvement", Brantford Expositor, July 19, 2003, p.A1).
Casino Sault.Ste. Marie in the City of Sault Ste. Marie will become 100% smoke-free, along with all other public places on June 4, 2004.
There are currently five 100% smoke-free raceways (Dresden, Hanover, Rideau Carlton, Sudbury Downs, Western Fair Raceway) with two more (Georgian Downs and Woodstock Raceway) to follow in January 2006 and September 2003, respectively.
Quebec’s three casinos, including the Lac-Leamy casino near Ottawa, became smoke-free in July 2003. Lac-Leamy allows smoking in its four designated smoking rooms. Casino officials said that the decision was in an effort to move away from stereotypes associated with casinos and to attract a larger clientele from out-of-province. In 2001-02, 64 per cent of the casino’s visitors were from out-of-province ("Casino du Lac-Leamy Goes Smoke-Free", Montreal Gazette, July 2, 2003).
Casino de Montreal is now a non-smoking establishment and Charlevois Casino in Eastern Quebec is entirely smoke-free.
New studies are continuing to show the importance of establishing smoke-free policies in gaming facilites in an effort to decrease tobacco consumption: