Trump: Casinos should sue over smoking ban

April 24, 2008 6:35:47 PM PDT
Donald Trump says Atlantic City's 11 casinos should sue to block a smoking ban from taking effect in October. The real estate magnate, who is chairman of a company that owns three casinos in Atlantic City, says the Atlantic City Council put New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage when it approved a ban Wednesday night.

"We're the only one that has it," Trump told The Associated Press in an interview in his Manhattan office. "That will have a tremendously negative effect in Atlantic City. Why would you pass a law knowing it's going to reduce your revenues."

Slots parlors in the Philadelphia area, which have been stealing many of Atlantic City's most profitable and reliable customers over the last year and a half, permit them to smoke while gambling. Some smokers shunned Atlantic City last April when the city imposed a partial ban that restricts smoking to no more than 25 percent of the casino floor.

But anti-smoking advocates said the partial restriction didn't work. The smoking areas were not walled-off and separated from nonsmoking areas, as last year's law had called for, and smoke still wafts throughout the casino floor.

Trump called on the Casino Association of New Jersey to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the total ban. However, Trump said he would not file one on his own.

"I think the association, of which I've not been a huge fan, should launch a major lawsuit and stop it," Trump said. "I don't think the association has handled the situation very well."

The association's president did not immediately return calls for comment. Joseph Corbo has previously said the industry would reluctantly go along with a ban if it had enough time to prepare.

The ordinance allows casinos to construct gambling-free smoking lounges, but does not require them to.

"I'm not a smoker, and I don't personally like what smoking does to people," Trump said. "But this puts us at a huge disadvantage."

Trump is the chairman and largest shareholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts, which operates the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino.