Dispute Over Smoking Ban's Impact on Illinois Casinos

Dispute Over Smoking Ban's Impact on Illinois Casinos A decade after Illinois introduced its smoking ban at commercial casinos across the state, the Tobacco Control journal, which reviews the health consequences of tobacco use, has released a study stating that Illinois’s gambling venues have suffered no negative impact as a result of the piece of legislation.
Meanwhile, casino officials, on the other hand, have disputed the validity of the methods used in the study, stating that a decline was recorded in casino revenues following the introduction of the Smoke-Free Illinois Act.
The data collected by the research authors included casino admissions and receipts a decade prior and eight years following the smoking ban coming into effect, with not just Illinois, but also Iowa, Indiana and Missouri included in the study. Furthermore, an allowance was made for the ban coming into effect just one month after the start of the Great Recession.
Illinois’ casino market has been on a downward trajectory since peaking in July 2000, with the report subsequently showing a 5% decline in casino admissions following the ban, despite admissions in the other states mentioned gradually increasing. In addition, per-capita gross receipts also fell by 20% in Illinois from Q1 of 2007 to Q1 of 2008, versus an 11% drop in Indiana, a 5.6% fall in Missouri, and slight uptick in Iowa.
Once other influences are factored into the analysis, such as the economic downturn and video game gambling becoming available, it was concluded that there had been “no significant negative economic consequences for casinos in terms of per-capita admissions or revenues.”
Nevertheless, Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gambling Association in Chicago, said that their admission and revenue calculations were incorrect. Instead, Swoik seemed more inclined to believe a 2009 report which appeared on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website which suggested a 20% decline in revenues, worth around $400 million less per annum, and $200 million less tax revenues for the state in 2008.
One matter that doesn’t appear to be up for debate, however, is the positive impact that the smoking ban has had on the lives of those people working at the casinos, and as Dr. John Tauras, the study’s lead author explains:
“Workers in casinos that allow smoking are at high risk for secondhand smoke exposure. By eliminating secondhand smoke exposure, smoking bans in casinos have the potential to significantly improve the health of casino workers and patrons of casinos.”

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