Revel may be struggling to get off the ground in Atlantic City's difficult gambling environment right now, but there's one area where the resort's newest casino is leading from the front - the issue of smoking.

Revel's smoke-free property is part of an emerging trend in the gambling industry that analysts predict could pressure Atlantic City's other casinos to emulate.

There are a few states - New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut - where limited smoking in casinos is still allowed, but there's no disputing where all of this is leading. Maryland, Ohio, New York and Delaware all keep casino patrons from lighting up. Massachusetts casinos will be smoke-free when they open.

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Health concerns - especially for casino employees - and a growing number of people who prefer to eat, drink and gamble without inhaling secondhand smoke have contributed to this trend.

As Michael Pollock, of Spectrum Gaming Group, has noted, smoke-free casinos are "what the markets ultimately are going to demand, that's what governments are going to demand and that's what employees are going to demand."

Quite frankly, that puts Atlantic City in a difficult position. Currently, by city ordinance, smoking is allowed on 25 percent of a casino floor. States with an emerging casino culture can afford to take a bit more modern outlook on the issue, but Atlantic City is in a fight for its life right now. The resort is already losing customers and revenue to the slot parlors in neighboring states. Alienating gamblers - however few it might be - by going entirely smoke-free in Atlantic City is simply not a good idea right now.

But with a growing public sentiment that generally frowns on smoking in public places, even the Atlantic City casinos' limited smoking policy seems to be on the fast-track to being antiquated.

So Revel got it right. It targets a younger, urban demographic interested in clubs, cocktails and dance music. And that generation - unlike its parents - has grown up without a lot of smoking in public places. Revel is reaching out to those younger people in a tangible way. While that may hurt the casino's cash flow short-term, over the long haul it should prove beneficial.

American consumers, in general, have had to get used to a lot of new realities over the years ... and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Bar patrons are much more aware of drunken driving, and child seats in cars are the norm rather the exception now.

Revel is ahead of the curve on this one.

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