Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan Hotel bans smoking in public walkways

LAS VEGAS – Unless you’re gambling behind a plexiglass barrier, in front of a slot machine or inside the sports book or lounge, forget about smoking at Cosmopolitan. 

Smoking is now banned in The Strip resort’s public walkways and corridors. 

The ban is part of a “continued effort to further protect the health and wellbeing of our guests and employees,” the hotel-casino said in a statement.

Masks are mandatory, but guests may briefly remove them while smoking in these designated areas:

  • In the casino while siting at a table game with plexiglass dividers
  • In the casino while sitting at a slot machine
  • In the sports book 
  • In a lounge

As the COVID-19 death toll rises across the U.S., smoking inside casinos has resurfaced as a make-or-break detail for travelers planning vacations, and resort companies are now restricting where visitors can light up. 

The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas is denying that O.J. Simpson was defamed in November 2017 when employees banned him from the property and a celebrity news site reported the paroled former football hero and armed robbery inmate had been drunk, disruptive and unruly.

Park MGM will be Strip’s first smoke-free resort 

When MGM Resorts reopens its last closed Strip property on Sept. 30, guests won’t be able to smoke at card tables or slot machines.

Park MGM and NoMad will reopen as the only smoke-free resort on Las Vegas Boulevard. Visitors will find notices like this inside the casino: 

When the Park MGM casino reopens Sept. 30 in Las Vegas, patrons will find notices informing them it will be the Strip's only smoke-free property.

The properties will have three designated smoking areas: 

  • Rideshare Zone: Located off the main lobby
  • NoMad Porte Cochère 
  • Central Park Terrace: Located on the second floor of the convention center

“As we looked toward our reopening,” said Park MGM COO Anton Nikodemus in a statement, “we identified an opportunity to be responsive to recurring guest demand for a fully non-smoking casino resort on The Strip.”

Law protects casino smoking, but resorts have choice to ban 

Lighting up at card tables and slot machines is protected by Nevada law, making it difficult for government officials to ban smoking in casinos. But casinos have the choice to allow it inside their properties or not. 

Though the Silver State launched the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act in 2006, the law doesn’t quite apply to The Strip.

The law outlines where people can smoke indoors in Nevada, as opposed to where they can’t – and the list where smoking is acceptable is a long one:

  • Strip clubs and brothels
  • Tobacco stores
  • Stand-alone bars and taverns that are 21 and over
  • Any area inside casinos where loitering of minors is prohibited, typically near gaming tables and slot machines
  • Some convention centers
  • Outside areas of restaurants

In May, a Nevada resident wrote in an email to the Nevada Gaming Control Board that she would never step foot inside a casino if people are allowed to smoke during the pandemic. Nevada Chief Deputy Attorney General Darlene Caruso had this to say: 

“The legislature has specifically stated that smoking is not prohibited in casinos and the statute even includes a provision that states any regulation inconsistent with that would be null and void,” Caruso said. “The board’s hands are tied.”

Contributing: USA TODAY. 

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here