Casino patrons’ reactance to smoke-free policies

Abstract

A growing number of states and cities in the United States have enacted smoke-free policies in public areas and, to improve the health outcomes of employees and patrons, have extended the policies to indoor tourism and hospitality venues including casinos, bars, and restaurants. However, the introduction of smoke-free policies in casinos has lowered gaming revenues by up to 20% in some jurisdictions (Eadington, 2011; Pakko, 2005; Thalheimer & Ali, 2008). Smoke-free policies have the potential to reduce the participation rate of gamblers either because smoking gamblers choose not to gamble if they cannot smoke, or because they choose to migrate to an alternative gambling opportunity which allows smoking. Since the goal of implementing smoke-free policies is to improve the health outcomes of employees and customers, some states' or locales' exemption from the bans may be temporary (Goodman, Agnew, McCaffrey, Paul, & Clancy, 2007). As a result of these changing external influences, it may be necessary to develop effective marketing strategies for continued growth in the casino industry. This study aimed to enhance insight into this phenomenon that results from external market influences by focusing on gamblers' behavioral changes with respect to their decisions to visit casinos when smoking bans are implemented. This dissertation proposed and tested a gambling-specific behavior model to examine the antecedents of individual changes in gambling patronage. The model was tested by using Path Analysis on data that were collected through an online survey of gamblers who visited gaming facilities in Deadwood, South Dakota. The results indicated that both the psychological reactance trait and the attitude importance of the freedom to smoke influence gambling behavioral changes after a smoking ban went into effect. Individual attitudes towards secondhand smoking also explained changes in casino patronage. No moderator effect was found in the path analysis. Supplementary analyses for other hospitality sectors were also conducted and the results also showed psychological reactance trait, the attitude importance of the freedom to smoke, and the attitude towards secondhand smoking explain changes in restaurant and bar patronage, and video lottery terminal participation. Discussion on the results of hypotheses testing and implications are presented followed by future research directions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

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