ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Irate that a session to discuss a proposed smoking ban during a major casino industry conference was snuffed out, casino workers and patrons opposed to smoking in the gambling halls held a noisy protest outside the meeting Thursday.About 100 people rallied in the rain underneath a walkway outside the Hard Rock Casino, demanding that the state Legislature act on a bill to ban casino smoking that has the support of more than half of state lawmakers and Gov.
Phil Murphy.The bill has been stalled without a hearing in a state Senate or Assembly committee, and a similar measure died without a vote last year as well.Thursday afternoon, the East Coast Gaming Congress was to have included a panel discussion on casino smoking, an issue that is roiling workers, customers and lawmakers not only in New Jersey but in states including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and others.It was scrapped when the casino industry representative, Resorts Casino President Mark Giannantonio, withdrew.
He recently became president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, the Atlantic City casinos' trade association which vehemently opposes a smoking ban."The CANJ is running and hiding right now," said Peter Naccarelli, a Borgata dealer and a leader of a push by casino workers to ban smoking in their workplaces. "They have no logical arguments."Lamont White, another Borgata dealer opposed to smoking, said the casino industry's main argument has always been, "We'd lose money, and money is more important than casino workers lives.""That's all they have to say," he said.Giannantonio declined comment on Thursday's demonstration, referring a reporter to a statement the casino association issued earlier this month in which it said "an.