The Hancock County Board of Health voted to amend its smoking ban in public places on Oct. 9. The Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort and a few video lottery venues are now permitted to allow its patrons to smoke.
The Board of Health passed the motion to become effective immediately. The motion passed over the objections of both community members and one of its own.
Health officer Dr. Anna Suray could not understand the logic of the decision. She told wtrf.com:
“The least in my mind is worrying about whether or not a casino has smokers on the floor. Like in my mind we’re suppose(d) to be focused on (the fact that) we don’t want exposure of second-hand smoke because we know the health dangers of that.”
Suray resigned her position shortly after the vote. She cited concerns over the actions of new board members as the reason for her departure, although the outcome of the motion clearly played a role.
What does it mean for patrons of Mountaineer?
The motion doesn’t necessarily mean that Mountaineer will offer smoking. Another member of the community expressed dismay over the ban’s dismissal due to his personal situation. Health and fitness coach Rance Everly cited the fact that his wife, who works in one of the newly permitted locations, will now come home and transfer smoke to their infant daughter.
However, Everly’s concerns may be slightly premature at this point. The lifting of the ban does not necessarily compel any of the affected businesses to actually offer smoking.
Allowing smoking may not appeal to as many customers, either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 15 percent of Americans still puff away on cigarettes.
Given that Mountaineer has persevered this long without smoking, it’s possible that management may decide to keep the property a non-smoking venue. Certainly the property, located in the northernmost tip of West Virginia, has refused to follow the pack other times, too.
The Mountaineer still doesn’t have any visible evidence of sports betting
The most notable example of the Mountaineer’s march to its own beat is its refusal to pursue sports betting so far. The casino is the only gaming facility in West Virginia not to have applied for a sports betting permit.
The only sign that there might be some movement for the New Cumberland-area property is its parent company’s recent partnership with William Hill. However, Eldorado Resorts still seems quite bearish on sports betting in general.
The company’s recent takeover of Tropicana Atlantic City is significant, as the Trop is one of Atlantic City’s few remaining holdouts for sports betting. Rather than press forward, one of Eldorado’s first acts was to fire the staff that oversees the Trop’s online casino site.
Eldorado has also agreed to sell off a portion or all of its properties in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s sports betting launch is imminent. A withdrawal from the market would seem to be the last thing that a company would want to do.
So, the Board of Health’s decision may not necessarily generate a response from the nearby casino. Quite simply, the Mountaineer gonna mountaineer.