On Tuesday, July 13, the Shreveport City Council submitted an amendment not to include casinos in a smoking ban. The move comes barely a year after the council voted to allow Ordinance no. 51. This is the Smoke-Free Air Act banning smoking in casinos, poker rooms, bars, and other gaming properties in northwestern Louisiana.
The act was to become active in August 2020, but was delayed until August this year, following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, several weeks before the act became operational, the council felt the need to amend the act.
The four-hour meeting resulted in a 4-3 vote, favoring the amendment. But, a few hours later, the Shreveport city council decided to put the issue to bed indefinitely. This means smoking in casinos will be banned starting August 1, 2021.
The Americans for Non-Smokers Rights is campaigning across America, pushing states to create policies banning smoking in casinos. In that line, one of the group’s consultants was present at the Tuesday morning meeting. Hayden reported that the council is slated to meet later on July 28.
James Flurry introduced the amendment to Ordinance no. 51. Flurry is the president of the Shreveport city council. He said banning smoking in casinos would be bad for business.
According to him, gamblers will move across the Red River to Bossier City, leaving the two riverboat casinos in Shreveport disadvantaged. Bossier City has not banned smoking in casino halls. Flurry said that prohibiting smoking in riverboat casinos removes a level playing ground with Bossier City casinos.
Yet, Flurry was one of the councils that voted to ban smoking in casinos last year. However, he hoped that Bossier City would follow the example and implement a ban as well. Flurry thinks the non-smoking act will not work if Bossier City doesn’t prohibit smoking.
Employees Might Lose Their Jobs
The city council president also thinks that employees will lose their jobs if clients move to Bossier City to gamble. He noted he was not going to be responsible for people losing jobs. However, a Smoke-Free Louisiana spokesperson had a response to Flurry’s claim. Raegan Carter asaid it was insensitive and insidious for Flurry to imply people would lose jobs if a smoking ban is implemented. According to Carter, the multimillion-dollar industry is more interested in taking clients’ money than protecting its employees.
Limited Smoking in the Other States
Louisiana is not the only state dealing with smoking in casinos, as other states have banned or partially banned smoking on casino floors. Several casinos in Las Vegas have banned smoking at the request of some guests.
For example, the Park MGM has banned smoking in all its properties in a quest to modernize its marketing. Since the 2020 fall, the luxurious hotel and casino have banned smoking due to continued requests from guests.
The newly opened Resorts World Las Vegas and the Cosmopolitan are also other gaming properties that have banned smoking in their property. According to Carter, smoke-free gambling floors are better for patrons and workers.
She insists that smoke-free gambling properties are attracting new clients. Carter also added that employees are happier and healthier from working in environments with clean air. Still, Flurry insists that exempting casinos from the upcoming implementation of the smoke-free act will ensure competitiveness on the east side of the red river. He believes the act is unfair.
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