‘Air curtain walls’ being eyed to enclose casino floor from the rest of building
The chief executive officer of Saipan’s casino said they are planning to implement “air curtain walls” at each of their gaming facility to address concerns from the public on the secondhand smoke that exudes from their facility.
Mark Brown, chief executive officer of Best Sunshine International, Ltd, said they are working with Duty Free Saipan on the issue.
“We know it’s an issue, we are not [turning] a blind eye to it. We are looking at an air curtain wall. That costs roughly a hundred thousand U.S. [dollars],” Brown said.
He said the curtain wall will keep the smoke out from the T Galleria mall and they are now working on how to keep smoke from entering the Hard Rock Café, which is a floor above the casino.
“I’ve worked in many casinos in my career, this is not a smoking casino to me,” Brown said. “I don’t know how it is to you. But the DFS employees are making comments and then some of the Hard Rock [employees] will say something. That’s why, even though we are kind of okay, we are still looking into definitely fixing it over here, trying to figure out…some kind of curtain wall—but because of the stairs going up it’s a little bit more difficult.
“But we are definitely on notice about it, and we are in meetings, figuring out exactly how to make everyone happy,” Brown added.
Two weeks ago, public health officials testified before the Senate on their concerns over an amendment to the casino law that would have exempted the casino from having its facility enclosed. Public law allows for smoking in gaming facilities provided that the facility is enclosed.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. public health planner Kaitlyn Neises said that, although the DFS complex underwent significant renovations in order to house BSI operations, the casino gaming floor remains open to the rest of the structure. Neither the entrance from the Hard Rock Café on the south side, nor the north entrance from neighboring duty free shopping area are separated by continuous floor to ceiling walls, leaving the gaming floor and the smoke generated by its patrons unobstructed from the rest of the complex.
“Consequently, smoke in the casino floor infiltrates other areas of the DFS complex such as the restaurant and shopping mall where smoking is expressively prohibited by statute,” she said. “While exemption from the smoking law already exists for the gaming floor of casinos, the law requires that these gaming floors be enclosed. As a result, Best Sunshine International is in direct violation of Public Law 16-46 and its casino license” agreement, which prohibits it from violating Commonwealth law.
Acting governor Ralph DLG Torres said last week that he “agreed with the concerns regarding the smoking bill,” urging Duty Free Saipan and their counterparts work on an “enclosement” within the T Galleria.
“…So I just hope the private entities can settle their differences within the building itself,” he said. “But sure, it’s safety first.”
Two weeks ago—through an amendment offered by Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan)—the Senate deleted “Section 17” of House Bill 19-95, HDI, HSI, which would have amended Commonwealth Code to essentially allow the non-enclosure of smoking areas in gaming establishments.