Advocates for smoke-free casinos and bars met in Shreveport this week to prepare the northwest Louisiana city for a smoking ban beginning Aug. 1
In June 2020, the Shreveport City Council passed an ordinance banning smoking in bars, casinos, and gaming facilities, according to the Shreveport Times.
Representatives of Smoke-Free Louisiana and the Region 7 Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalition met at the Sand Bar in downtown Shreveport on June 3 to answer questions about the upcoming ban.
The Smoke Free Air Act was to take effect in August 2020. However, the City County, concerned about job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, pushed the ban for casinos back to Aug. 1, 2021, according to Biz magazine. Some officials expressed concern that smokers would bypass Shreveport casinos and go to nearby resorts where smoking isn’t banned.
“We can talk about secondhand smoke all day long in these casinos and what it does to the employees, but if those employees don’t have a job, it’s going to be worse,” Councilman Grayson Boucher said last year.
Louisiana has 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. Throughout the state, numerous bars and truck stops are equipped with video poker machines.
Two riverboat casinos are on the Red River in Shreveport, according to the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau website. The gambling halls and horse track east of the Red River in Bossier City and elsewhere in the area would not be required to abide by the Shreveport smoking ban.
‘Reduced Consumer Demand’
Shreveport is the 30th municipality in Louisiana to implement “a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance,” said Randy Hayden, a Louisiana-based consultant for Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.
Quite a few states have already passed the statewide laws, and other states are doing what Louisiana is doing, which that is kind of nickel and diming it, community by community,” Hayden told the Shreveport Times. Hayden is president of Creative Communications in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana’s largest cities with casinos, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans, already have passed ordinances banning smoking in casinos. Lake Charles is the most populous city in Louisiana without a smoke-free ordinance to include casinos and bars, according to the newspaper.
Some in the industry contend that gamblers who like to smoke won’t go to casinos where it is banned. Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, told Casino.org that smoking bans lead to “reduced consumer demand” for casino gambling.
Smoking Bans in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, Park MGM on the Strip banned smoking last fall after “continued guest requests, according to Anton Nikodemus, an MGM Resorts executive. NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury “hotel-within-a-hotel” at Park MGM, also has banned smoking.
Park MGM and NoMad are among a small number of casinos on the Strip either to ban or limit smoking.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas last year banned smoking from some public spaces, but not the gaming floor. When Resorts World Las Vegas opens on the Strip on June 24, it will be smoke free throughout the property except inside the casino, President Scott Sibella told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Hayden told Casino.org that younger casino patrons are health conscious and don’t want to work or gamble in smoke-filled settings. With hundreds of casinos now located across the country, patrons can choose nonsmoking resorts close to home, he said.
“Gamblers now recognize they can locally have a ‘what happens in Vegas’ outing and not have to choke their way through that experience,” Hayden said.
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