MGM Resorts adopts smoke-free policy for Vegas Strip casino

FILE - In this Dec. 28, 2005, file photo, Judy King of Daytona Beach, Fla., holds her cigarette while playing a slot machine at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas. One of the last Las Vegas Strip resorts to reopen after coronavirus closures will be the first to be smoke-free, MGM Resorts International announced Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Park MGM will prohibit tobacco smoke inside when it opens Sept. 30, said Anton Nikodemus, president and chief operating officer of the 3,000-room property that many remember as the Monte Carlo casino-hotel. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) (AP2005)

LAS VEGAS – One of the last Las Vegas Strip resorts to reopen after coronavirus closures will be the first to be smoke-free, MGM Resorts International announced Monday.

Park MGM will prohibit tobacco smoke inside when it opens Sept. 30, said Anton Nikodemus, president and chief operating officer of the 3,000-room property that many remember as the Monte Carlo casino-hotel.

“We’re making the facility completely non-smoking because of continued guest requests,” he said. The property also includes the upscale NoMad hotel, which will open, and the 5,200-seat Park Theater, which remains closed due to a COVID-19 ban on crowds.

Moving to smoke-free is hardly a gamble, Nikodemus said: “We believe there is a high level of pent-up demand to have a non-smoking casino, especially here in Las Vegas."

The move by the city’s largest casino employer is a turning point in a city known for neon lights and tourists lighting up even if they can’t at home. Smoking and secondhand smoke has in the past sparked lawsuits and intense political debate.

“The tradition has been that you go to Las Vegas to do things that are bad for you,” said Michael Green, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas history professor whose father was a blackjack dealer for 30 years at old Las Vegas casinos, including the Stardust and Showboat.

“COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink a lot of things. Maybe this is one,” Green said. “I think there might be a better reaction now, while people are asked to wear masks.”

Neighboring states including California have strict smoking bans. In 2006, Nevada voters were offered two smoking initiatives and passed the Clean Indoor Air Act to ban smoking in many public places — but not casinos, bars, taverns, strip clubs, smoke shops and private residences. A competing measure backed by gambling and tavern industries was rejected.