The classic Nevada casinos featuring flashing lights, rolling dice, deftly dealt cards and a thick smoky haze are getting a modern facelift.
The lights, dice and cards are still there, but the smoke is clearing out with the help of new air filter systems.
The modern casino patron, for the most part, no longer equates smoke-filled rooms with fun.
Many of Reno’s casino customers come from California and other areas where smoking is no longer allowed in any public rooms, said Dave Fuller, director of hotel operations at Peppermill Resort Spa Casino.
“They’re sensitive and dialed in,” Fuller said. “Some can’t even believe there are places that still allow smoking.”
Non-smoking sections on the gaming floor now out-size smoking sections and hotels often sequester smoking rooms to their own floor.
Smoking in casinos won’t completely disappear any time soon.
For many casino patrons, smoking while gaming is part of the experience, Fuller said.
How do you keep both smokers and non-smokers happy? Smoke is not easily contained in smoking sections.
Compact air purifier units have begun appearing on many casino floors and hotel rooms.
A trend at casinos is to get more thorough about scrubbing the air, said Jim Kenney, owner of Reno’s Catalytic PURE Air, which sells portable air purifiers around the world as well as to local businesses and casinos such as Gold Dust West, Peppermill and Atlantis. “Casinos are addressing the smoke issues.”
The Gold Dust West in Reno began using rooftop air purifiers following a fire at the casino a few years ago, according to General Manager Albert Johnson. In more recent years, they’ve added the stand-alone units.
“They’re doing fantastic,” Johnson said “We just ordered more, they are doing so good.”
Even before the fire, Gold Dust West managers were challenged to improve air quality in the casino, which had a reputation for being smoky.
“There’s no substitute for having the cleanest air you can have,” Johnson said. “We get compliments.”
Hotels also use the units to prevent smoke in smoking rooms from seeping into non-smoking areas.
The Peppermill now has more than 200 units just in its hotel rooms. Another 150 are located in key areas of the casino floor.
“These things made a night and day improvement in air quality so quickly,” Fuller said.
The hotel had tried ozone machines, but they couldn’t be operated when people were in the rooms. The PURE Air units can operate 24/7 with people in the rooms, he said.
The portable units are considered a temporary fix. The Peppermill has been installing massive rooftop air purifying units.
Each of 12 sections in the casino has its own set of ductwork and air vacuum system, Fuller said.
“It took cranes to lower them into the building,” Fuller said. “The type of cranes used for bridges.”
The PURE Air portable units now on the casino floor will be used in additional hotel rooms and also sent to sister properties, Western Village Inn & Casino in Sparks and the Rainbow Hotel Casino and Montego Bay Casino Resort in Wendover.
“I’ve had several discussions with ownership here about how important (clean air) is,” Fuller said. “They are passionate about it.
“The number one complaint (from guests) is smoke.”