ArticlePDF Available

The Percentage of Gamblers Who Smoke A Study of Nevada Casinos and other Gaming Venues

Authors:

Abstract

the percentage is upward of 70%, while those with the health organizations have suggested that it should be more in line with the national average of smokers. This study was designed to look at the percentage of gamblers in the State of Nevada who smoke, which as the gaming capital of the world should be reflective of gaming throughout the U.S. and the world. We looked at casinos throughout the State of Nevada, from the mega-resorts of Las Vegas to the small local casinos of rural Nevada. Overall, we observed 17,723 gamblers. The results from the 3 tourist centers of Nevada we surveyed (Las Vegas, Reno/Sparks and Lake Tahoe) gave very similar results for the percentage of smokers (21.5, 22.6 and 17 respectively). These percentages of gamblers who smoke are very similar to the overall percentage of the U.S. population that smokes (20.9%). The percentage of gamblers who smoke at the small rural casinos is higher, at around 36.5%. This probably reflects the higher percentage of smokers in these communities and the dependence of these casinos on local patronage. These numbers, while higher than those of the tourist destinations in Nevada, are far below the >70% that the gaming industry has claimed. The percentage of gamblers who smoke at local grocery, drug and convenience stores in Nevada is also higher, with a rate of 42%, which again is much lower than the numbers claimed by the gaming industry. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the percentage of smokers at tourist destination gaming establishments is reflective of the overall percentage of smokers in the population. The percentage of smokers at small rural or non-tourist dependent gaming establishments may better reflect the percentage of smokers in that local area/community than that of the overall U.S. population.
Pritsos, Chris A.
1
The Percentage of Gamblers Who Smoke
A Study of Nevada Casinos and other Gaming Venues
Dr. Chris A. Pritsos Principle Investigator
Department of Nutrition/ MS 142
University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557
Telephone # (775) 784-6443
E-mail – pritsos@cabnr.unr.edu
1. Project Executive Summary
Because of the potential political and economic implications of smoking bans throughout
the U.S. and the world where gaming is allowed, there is considerable interest in the actual
percentage of gamblers who smoke. Those in the gaming industry have repeatedly claimed that
the percentage is upward of 70%, while those with the health organizations have suggested that it
should be more in line with the national average of smokers. This study was designed to look at
the percentage of gamblers in the State of Nevada who smoke, which as the gaming capital of the
world should be reflective of gaming throughout the U.S. and the world. We looked at casinos
throughout the State of Nevada, from the mega-resorts of Las Vegas to the small local casinos of
rural Nevada. Overall, we observed 17,723 gamblers. The results from the 3 tourist centers of
Nevada we surveyed (Las Vegas, Reno/Sparks and Lake Tahoe) gave very similar results for the
percentage of smokers (21.5, 22.6 and 17 respectively). These percentages of gamblers who
smoke are very similar to the overall percentage of the U.S. population that smokes (20.9%). The
percentage of gamblers who smoke at the small rural casinos is higher, at around 36.5%. This
probably reflects the higher percentage of smokers in these communities and the dependence of
these casinos on local patronage. These numbers, while higher than those of the tourist
destinations in Nevada, are far below the >70% that the gaming industry has claimed. The
percentage of gamblers who smoke at local grocery, drug and convenience stores in Nevada is
also higher, with a rate of 42%, which again is much lower than the numbers claimed by the
gaming industry. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the percentage of smokers at
tourist destination gaming establishments is reflective of the overall percentage of smokers in the
population. The percentage of smokers at small rural or non-tourist dependent gaming
establishments may better reflect the percentage of smokers in that local area/community than
that of the overall U.S. population.
Project Introduction:
Thirteen states have passed smoke-free workplace laws which include bars and
restaurants. States which allow gaming however have not been successful in including these
gaming workplace sites in their smoke-free policies. This is primarily due to the heavy lobbying
of the gaming industry. A key component in their arguments against any restrictions is that a
great many of their clients are smokers. Both in Nevada and in Colorado, gaming lobbyists have
stated before their respective legislatures that more than 70% of their customers smoke. This is
considerably greater than the 20.9% of adults who smoke in the U.S. A thorough search does not
Pritsos, Chris A.
2
find any scientific study conducted to ascertain the percentage of gamblers who smoke. The
figures used by the gaming lobbyists, in fact originate from anecdotal information obtained in a
survey of casino executives (1). With such a discrepancy between claims by the gaming industry
and the health community regarding the number of gamblers who smoke, it appeared critical to
conduct a thorough study to determine this number. This project was designed to determine the
percentage of gamblers who smoke. This is a very comprehensive study in that it looks at the
percentage of gamblers who smoke in a number of venues. It determines the percentages of
smokers who gamble in Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe casinos and the rural communities. It
splits the data out into those who play the slot machines and those who play the table games. It
also takes a look at those who play at the major casinos or those who play at the smaller local
casinos (frequented by locals) or those who play at the convenience or grocery store slots. The
results obtained from this study provide a thorough characterization of the smoking prevalence
of those who gamble in Nevada.
Project Methodology
Determination of Percentage of Smokers in a Room
The overall goal of this study is to determine the percentage of gamblers who are
smokers. To date, there have not been any scientifically conducted studies to make that
determination. In this study, we determined the percentage of gamblers who smoke by a method
which actually counts the number of smokers in a room. A methodology for the determination of
smokers in a room was published in 1980 by Repace and Lowry (2). In that paper they developed
a method to determine smoker density in a room. Assuming that smoking in a large group is a
random process and that habitual smokers on average smoke 2 cigarettes per hour and that each
cigarette takes on average 10 minutes to smoke (3,4), then the number of persons actively
smoking in a room at any one time is 1/3 the number of smokers in the room (2). This method if
anything overestimates the number of smokers in a room because it makes the assumption that
all smokers are habitual smokers. In the most recent MMWR report (5) it states that only 80.8%
of U.S. smokers surveyed said that they smoked every day and based upon these data the method
described above would overestimate the number of smokers by as much as 25%. We, however,
used this published method to make our determinations, recognizing that, if anything, it would
overestimate the number of smokers.
Between August 1st and October 27th data was collected by teams of two with tally
counters. As the team would walk through the casino, one person would count the number of
gamblers and the other person would count the number of smokers in the area. The team would
cover the entire casino, walking up and down all of the slot areas as well as the gaming tables.
Players in the poker rooms, most of which are now smoke-free, were not included in the study
results as well as persons seated at bars in the casino. Our study results were limited to those
gamblers on the casino floor. Separate counts were made for those playing slot machines of
$5.00 or greater per token (high slots) and those playing machines of less than $5.00 per coin. In
the same manner, separate counts were recorded for those playing at tables with $25 minimum
play and those playing at tables with a less than $25 minimum play. We visited each casino twice
in order to get multiple counts at each gaming venue, except for the Las Vegas-off strip casinos,
which were only visited once due to time limitations.
Pritsos, Chris A.
3
Percentage of Gamblers Who Smoke:
We collected data from a variety of areas throughout the state in order to get a
representative determination of the number of gamblers who smoke. We divided our study up
into different areas around the state. We collected data in Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and the
rural areas of Nevada. We also collected data on the number of gamblers who smoke in grocery
and convenient stores in the Reno/Carson City area as a representative number of gamblers who
smoke in these gaming venues. The results from each of these areas are presented below.
Las Vegas Casinos:
Data were collected over a three day period in August from casinos in Las Vegas. We
collected all of the data and then further divided it into two sections, casinos on the strip and
casinos off-strip in order to see whether there were any real differences between the two, with
the idea that the off-strip casinos might be frequented more by locals. Before dividing up the
data, we counted a total of 9,628 gamblers among whom we observed 691 smokers for a
calculated percentage of 21.5 % smokers. This percentage of smokers is nearly identical to the
20.9% of Americans who smoke. When then divided up the data between the casinos located on
the Las Vegas Strip and those not located on the strip.
Eight casinos on the strip were surveyed. They are the Mandalay Bay, Excalibur,
Caesar’s, Bellagio, Luxor, New York, New York, Wynn’s and the Venetian. The results of the
study are shown in Table 1. Overall, we see that 7633 total gamblers were counted with 516 of
them being smokers. This results in a 6.76% smoking rate and then multiplying that by 3 gives
us a total of 20.3% smokers amongst the gamblers on the strip. Interestingly, the percentage of
smokers among the table games was even less, at 17.9% while smokers constituted 21% of the
slot players.
Eight off-strip casinos were also surveyed including the Orleans, Palace Station, The
Four Queens, Sam Boyd’s Fremont, Golden Nugget, Binion’s, Terrible’s Casino and the Santa
Fe Palace. The results of the study are shown in Table 2. A total of 1,552 gamblers were
observed with a total of 175 smokers. This works out to 26.3% of gamblers who smoked at the
off strip casinos. Interestingly, if one separates out the downtown casinos from the other off-strip
casinos then the percentage of gamblers who smoke at the downtown casinos is nearly identical
to the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip (21.8 and 20.3 respectively). Again the percentage of off-
strip smokers among the table games was lower, at 16%, while it was 29.4% at the slots.
Reno/Sparks Casinos:
Data were collected from 9 casinos in the Reno/Sparks area which included many of the
large casinos in the area as well as the smaller casinos frequented by locals. The casinos
surveyed were Atlantis, Bonanza, Boomtown, Circus Circus, Grand Sierra Resort, John
Ascuaga’s Nugget, Peppermill, Silver Club and the Silver Legacy. The results of the study are
shown in Table 3. Overall, 5025 gamblers were observed together with 379 smokers for a
calculated percentage of 22.6% smokers. These results are very close to the overall Las Vegas
numbers of 21.5% smokers. As with the Las Vegas results, fewer smokers were observed at the
gaming tables, 16%, than at the slot machines, 24.2%. In general, the smaller, casinos, catering
Pritsos, Chris A.
4
to locals, had a slightly higher percentage of gamblers who smoke than the larger resort type
casinos.
Lake Tahoe Casinos:
Data were collected from three South Shore, Lake Tahoe casinos. The casinos surveyed
were Harrah’s, Harvey’s and MontBleu. The data are presented in Table 4. Overall 1,682
gamblers were observed and 92 of them were smokers for a calculated percentage of 17%
smokers. The same trends were observed in these casinos as were seen in the Las Vegas and
Reno/Sparks casinos with fewer smokers observed at the tables (13%) than the slots (18%).
Rural Nevada Casinos:
Data were collected from several casinos in several rural communities in Nevada during
the course of this study. Many of the casinos in these rural communities were quite small and so
the numbers of gamblers observed were also sometimes small. We obtained data from 6 rural
communities in Nevada: Carson City, Fallon, Fernley, Hawthorne, Lovelock and Tonopah. We
obtained data for almost all of the casinos in the small towns with the exception of Carson City.
In Carson City we surveyed the Cactus Jack’s, Carson Nugget, Horseshoe Club and the Pinon
Plaza. In Fallon we surveyed the Bonanza Casino, Stockman’s Casino and The Depot. In Fernley
we surveyed the Chukars, Silverado, Truck Inn and the Wigwam. In Hawthorne we surveyed the
El Capitan and in Lovelock we surveyed Sturgeon’s. In Tonopah we surveyed the Banc Club and
the Tonopah Station. Very few of these casinos had table games, with the El Capitan in
Hawthorne being the only non-Carson City casino with table game gamblers. The data are
presented in Table 5. Overall, 1193 gamblers were observed with 145 smokers for a calculated
percentage of 36.5% smokers. Only 9 % of gamblers at the table games were smokers, although
these numbers are quite small, and 38.2 % of slot players were smokers. Overall the rural
communities appeared to have a higher percentage of gamblers that smoke than the major
Nevada resort communities. This is most likely due to the higher rate of smoking in these
communities and the overall reliance of local patronage rather than tourist patronage.
Supermarkets, Drug and Convenience Stores:
Over the course of this study, we gathered data from supermarket, drug and convenience
store slot areas in order to get a feel for the percentage of gamblers who smoke at those gaming
venues. The majority of our data are from the Reno/Sparks area, however some data were
obtained from Carson City, Fernley, Hawthorne, Lovelock and Tonopah. The data from Fernley,
Hawthorne, Lovelock and Tonopah were gathered at the same time as the casino data were
gathered. What made this particularly difficult was the small number of gamblers present at any
one time. Initially, when we would stop at a site and no gamblers were present we did not record
the data. Later on we began recording the fact that no gamblers were present. The data are
presented in Table 6. From the total of 82 observations we had only a total of 195 gamblers, 28
of whom were smokers. This calculated out as a smoking rate of 42%. By far the greatest
majority of gamblers was seen at the grocery stores (136) with a calculated smoking rate of 36%.
The observed numbers for drug and convenience stores are very small with only 38 and 21
Pritsos, Chris A.
5
gamblers observed, respectively. These numbers are far too small for any meaningful evaluation.
What stands out from these data is the small number of gamblers at these sites.
Conclusions:
In this study we have counted gamblers and smokers throughout the State of Nevada
from the mega-resort casinos of Las Vegas to the tiny rural casinos and in grocery, drug and
convenience stores. Overall we counted 17,723 gamblers and found that 1,335 of them were
smoking. This calculates out to 22.6% of the gamblers were smokers using the method of Repace
and Lowry to determine the number of smokers in a room. If anything, this method would
overestimate the number of smokers. These numbers are very similar to results just published
results showing that in 2005 approximately 20.9% of Americans smoke. See a summary of the
overall results in Table 7. The numbers from Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe were even closer
to the 20.9% number (21.5, 22.6 and 17 % respectively). It is important to note here that the
percentage of gamblers who smoke would be even smaller had this study included those
gamblers in the casino poker rooms (which are almost all non-smoking facilities). While we
separated out the data for high (minimum) and low (minimum) table games, the number of
players at these high table games was extremely few, with the exception being the Las Vegas
Strip Casinos where we observed the smoking rate to be 22%. Few gamblers were observed at
the high (minimum wager) slot machines. Only 115 gamblers in total were observed at these
high slots and 76 of them were observed at the Las Vegas Strip Casinos where a 39% smoking
rate was recorded. The rural communities showed higher smoker rates amongst gamblers of
36.5% which most likely reflects the higher percentage of smokers in these communities and the
fact that much of the gaming patronage is from locals. These results suggest that the percent of
gamblers who smoke at tourist destination casinos are almost identical to the overall percentage
of smokers in the U.S.
References:
1. Dobra J. “Economic Impacts of the Proposed OSHA Smoking Ban on the State of
Nevada.” Dec, 1996. Philip Morris. Bates No. 2072360688/0711.
http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/xzx97d00 [Accessed 30 Sept, 2003].
2. Repace, J.L. “Indoor Air Pollution, Tobacco Smoke and Public Health” Science 208:464-
472 (1980).
3. Hoegg, U.R. “Cigarette Smoke in Closed Spaces.” Env. Health Perspect. 2:117- 128
(1972).
4. Bridge, D.P. and Corn, M. “Contribution to the assessment of exposure of nonsmokers to
air pollution from cigarette and cigar smoke in occupied spaces.” Environ. Res. 5:192-
209 (1972).
5. “Tobacco Use Among Adults – United States, 2005” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly
Report. Vol. 55, No. 42, pp 1145-1151 (2006).
Table 7- Summary of Study Results
Calculated Percentage of Gamblers Who Smoke
Location No. of
Gamblers No. of
Smokers Calculated % of
Gamblers Who
Smoke
Las Vegas Casinos
9,628
691
21.5
Las Vegas Strip Casinos
7633
516
20.3
Las Vegas Off-Strip Casinos
1,552
175
26.3
Reno/Sparks Casinos
5,025
379
22.6
Lake Tahoe Casinos
1682
92
17.0
Rural Nevada Casinos
1193
145
36.5
Supermarkets, Drug and
Convenience Stores
195
28
42.0
* The percentage of smokers in the U.S. population (2005 survey results) is 20.9%.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Summary. An experimental and theoretical investigation is made into the range and nature of the exposure of the nonsmoking public to respirable suspended particulates from Cigarette smoke. A model incorporating both physical and sociological parameters is shown to be useful in understanding particulate levels from cigarette smoke in indoor environments. Observed levels of particulates correlate with the predictions of the model. It is shown that nonsmokers are exposed to significant air pollution burdens from indoor smoking. An assessment of the public health policy implications of these burdens is presented.
Article
Because it was suspected that a significant portion of the total pollutants inhaled by an urban dweller may be contributed by pollution in occupied spaces where smokers are present, a study was performed to determine pollutant concentrations in occupied ventilated spaces. Carbon monoxide was continuously monitored with a Beckman infrared analyzer and was used as a tracer for suspended particulate matter generated from cigarette and cigar smoke. Experiments were first performed in an exposure chamber with a smoking machine of new design. Pollutants were then monitored in occupied spaces with known occupancy levels and occupancy smoking rates. Measured pollutant concentrations and associated doses were compared to Threshold Limit Values for occupational exposures and Federal Ambient Air Quality Standards for outdoor air.An equation proposed by Turk for predicting pollutant concentrations from tobacco smoke generated in ventilated spaces was found to be a reliable predictor of carbon monoxide concentrations in the exposure chamber. The equation was also successfully used to predict carbon monoxide concentrations when the smoking rate and occupancy levels, as well as the room ventilation rate and mixing factor were known. Approximately 4.6 times as much carbon monoxide was generated in cigarette sidestream smoke as in the mainstream smoke. One cigar generated approximately 1.7 to 2.5 times as much carbon monoxide as three cigarettes.When measured and predicted pollutant concentrations from smoking in occupied spaces were compared to Federal Ambient Air Quality Standards, our results suggested that carbon monoxide from cigarette and cigar smoking do not present an inhalation hazard to nonsmokers, but suspended particulate matter may reach excessive concentrations.
Economic Impacts of the Proposed OSHA Smoking Ban on the State of Nevada
  • J Dobra
Dobra J. "Economic Impacts of the Proposed OSHA Smoking Ban on the State of Nevada." Dec, 1996. Philip Morris. Bates No. 2072360688/0711. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/xzx97d00 [Accessed 30 Sept, 2003].
Tobacco Use Among Adults -United States
"Tobacco Use Among Adults -United States, 2005" Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 55, No. 42, pp 1145-1151 (2006).