63.5 million votes against

Boyd Gaming shareholders overwhelmingly reject proposal for non-smoking policy study

Reading time 1:52 min

Boyd Gaming Corporation's shareholders overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to study the potential effects of adopting a company-wide non-smoking policy during the operator's annual shareholder meeting on May 9.

The proposal, which sought to explore the potential ramifications of implementing a ban on indoor smoking, was met with staunch opposition, with more than 63.5 million votes cast against it, contrasting sharply with only 18.5 million in favor, as reported in regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The proposal, brought forward by a shareholder, called for an in-depth examination of the effects of indoor smoking, citing concerns over health risks associated with secondhand smoke and its possible impact on Boyd Gaming's operations.

Drawing from a U.S. surgeon general report, advocates of the proposal said there are business risks in permitting indoor smoking, including escalated employee insurance premiums, increased maintenance costs, and the potential alienation of customers.

A direct excerpt from the proposal stated: "Shareholders have no guidance as to the costs our company is bearing for continuing to allow indoor smoking, nor has the company disclosed the social and environmental costs and risks imposed on its stakeholders."

Boyd's board of directors recommended voting against the proposal, arguing that the company was already "effectively balancing multiple interests." The board also argued that a smoking ban would give competitors an advantage.

Expressing apprehensions about potential competitive disadvantages and the unilateral imposition of a smoking ban, the board urged shareholders to vote against the proposal, suggesting it could pave the way for unwarranted policy changes, reports KSNV.

"The proposal asks for a report on implementing a smoke-free policy, but we believe this proposal is the first step toward forcing our company to unilaterally adopt such a policy, regardless of the actions of our competitors," the board said.

The shareholder-led initiative is part of a broader movement advocating for smoke-free environments within Nevada casinos, with similar efforts targeting other gaming companies operating in the state, including Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Corp. 

Paula Larson-Schusster, the president of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 355, a coalition member supporting the shareholder effort, stated: "This is not going to affect their business. It will probably cut health care costs, cleaning costs, and other general expenses."

The debate surrounding indoor smoking in casinos extends beyond Nevada, with stakeholders grappling with similar considerations in other states where gaming establishments operate, most notably New Jersey.

A majority of Nevada voters, at nearly 60 percent, would support banning smoking in casinos, according to the results of a poll by a state clean air advocacy group.

The survey, commissioned by the Nevada Tobacco Control and Smoke-free Coalition, revealed that 58 percent of voters surveyed would endorse a potential law making all workplaces in Nevada, including casinos, completely smoke-free while indoors. Meanwhile, 39 percent of respondents expressed opposition to such legislation, reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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