Why Do So Many Gamblers Smoke?

We tend to associate gambling with smoking. When picturing a poker player, many of us have a picture of a cigarette hanging from the lip of a player tossing in chips. Statistics confirm that there are still many gamblers who smoke. 

Stress relief

Smoking is addictive and gambling can also be addictive. Some believe that people who are susceptible to addiction are attracted to gambling. However, addiction to smoking does not mean smokers become addicted to gambling. A theory that holds more weight is that smoking relieves stress. 

High-stakes betting is undeniably stressful. Players who make risky moves can lose their chips. They may take a cigarette break to minimize the risk if they fear they are liable to make a risky decision. The downside of smoking to relieve stress is that relief is only temporary. When it wears off, players can become irritable and this can make taking risks more likely. 

Pandemic shutdowns resulted in many casinos rethinking their policies about smoking. Pushes by employees to ban smoking on casino floors have gained momentum. Pennsylvania is a state that allows smoking, but leading casino operators in the state have opted to remain smoke-free. Some people may prefer playing at online casinos where they can smoke and play games from the comfort of their own homes. 


Nicotine does have the ability to boost concentration. Poker tournaments can go on for many hours and most card games take some time. Smoking gives players the advantage of being able to increase their concentration. The problem is that it is easy to become addicted to cigarettes. At a certain point, smoking a cigarette will only bring concentration up to normal levels. This means that the apparent benefits of smoking to increase concentration are shaky, to say the least. Gamblers need to give up smoking if they have fitness goals they want to achieve. 

Social norms

If smoking is no longer permitted on a casino floor, it could become a social norm to smoke outside a casino rather than inside. This isn’t the case yet. It is still socially acceptable to smoke in a designated area inside a casino. As smoke-free casinos become the norm, this is likely to change. Smoke-free casinos are good for the health of players and this should be good for business. 

Some casinos fear that a smoking ban would drive customers away and result in job losses. The evidence to date shows that this isn’t the case. Players continue to flock to casinos with smoke-free policies. 

In Atlantic City, the casinos designate only about a quarter of gambling floors for smokers. Smoking and non-smoking games are probably only feet away from each other. There is a proposed bill to ban smoking in Atlantic City casinos. It came about in response to a 2006 New Jersey state law guaranteeing smoke-free workplaces but exempting casinos. 

Some casinos fear a smoking ban 

Many casino employees no longer accept the fact that they have to inhale second-hand smoke. They are aware that smoking deaths can be the result, and that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Even if it doesn’t cause death, it can result in heart and lung problems. Smoke-free casinos are inevitable in the future but making the change could take time. 

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