Casinos Choke on Smoke Bans

Industry sees revenues drop as state laws makes gamblers gamble less
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2008 2:20 PM CDT
People smoke while playing slot machines at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Thursday Sept. 13, 2007.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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(Newser) – Taking deep breaths of clean air won’t stave off panic for casinos confronted with smoking bans in an increasing number of states, the Wall Street Journal reports. In Illinois, casinos have posted double-digit revenue drops since a ban took effect in January. “Gamblers like to smoke and drink while they gamble,” explained one consultant. “You've got three co-dependent bad behaviors that go together.”

When gamblers are forced to leave tables or machines for a smoke, casinos say, they’re less likely to return. “The joy of playing is that you’re focused. … All of life’s hassles disappear,” the analyst said. Get up for a smoke and “that’s it, you’re leaving the zone.” But advocates argue that the health benefits for employees outweigh bottom-line concerns.