Smoking has been outlawed in places such as restaurants, bars and patios at various locations all across the United States. Casinos tend to be one of the few exceptions to those rules nowadays, though even some gaming sites are starting to come around on the idea of banning the harmful habit. Now, the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is considering jumping on the bandwagon.
Baton Rouge has three riverboat casinos within the city limits: the Hollywood Casino, L’Auberge and Bell of Baton Rouge. All three casinos currently allow some form of smoking on their gambling floors.
However, Smoke-free East Baton Rouge (EBR) has introduced an ordinance that would ban patrons from being able to light up while inside the casinos. If the committee is able to convince at least even of the 12 Metropolitan Council members to vote in favor of the ordinance, smoking will no longer be permitted inside Baton Rouge casinos.
Smoke-free EBR spokeswoman Raegan Carter had the following to say about the proposed ordinance:
“There are 3,000 bar and casino workers that work in smoke-filled places right now, and so we realize that to prevent illnesses, that those workers deserve to have smoke-free environments. We realize this year that we have a new council and a new mayor that are more aware of the importance of the issue.”
A similar measure failed to pass after a 6-6 vote by the Council in 2016.
Casinos Aren’t Thrilled
As you would expect, none of the three Baton Rouge area casinos are too pleased with the proposed measure. If you’ve ever been to a casino, you’re surely aware that plenty of customers enjoy a smoke while partaking in casino games.
Most smokers would tell you that outlawing smoking at casinos would negatively impact their enjoyment, which could potentially harm business for the casinos.
Baton Rouge passed the Clean Air Act in 2005 that outlawed smoking inside public places. However, exceptions were granted in the law for restaurants and bars that hold alcohol licenses and “any property where gaming operations are conducted.” So, casinos were also exempted from the rule.
The Louisiana Casino Association issued its statement opposing the fresh anti-smoking measure:
“We believe both our customers and employees are educated and therefore able to choose for themselves the environment they wish to enter. Despite the speculative claims … that such bans would actually increase the number of customers visiting casinos, real world experience in Colorado, Illinois, New Orleans, and other locations which have imposed such bans in casinos clearly shows otherwise.”
New Orleans installed a smoking ban inside its lone land-based casino, Harrah’s, in 2015. Caesars, which owns Harrah’s, reported that the smoking ban has effectively cost the venue $69 million in revenue in the two years since.
Ban May Pass
During a recent rally in support of the smoking ban, five of the Metropolitan Council members publicly endorsed the new ordinance.
So, only two of the remaining seven members, all of which are men, would have to vote “yes” in order to get the new bill passed. It is currently unknown when voting will take place. Their next scheduled meeting is June 14.
Source: Gambling Sites
Author: Taylor Smith
Date: June 5, 2017