Indiana's Majestic Star Casinos Resisting Call for Smoking BanNovember 13, 2017 12:52 pm
In 2012, Indiana implemented a statewide indoor smoking ban at almost all its public places, including restaurants and workplaces, although exception were made for the state’s numerous bars, taverns, night clubs, casinos, and private members clubs. It was then left up to local towns to decide whether or not to extend the smoking ban to such establishments.
Thus far, the city of Gary near Lake Michigan has allowed its Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II riverboats to benefit from their exemption, but that may soon change. That is because the Gary Common Council is now seriously considering imposing a ban, as the organization comes under increasing pressure from anti-smoking groups, such as “Smoke-Free in the G”, whose members recently attended a council meeting wearing t-shirts stating; “Every worker deserves the right to breathe smoke-free air.”
As early as November 21st, the Council could vote to ban smoking from the city’s two casinos. In the meantime, the Majestic Star CEO Peter Liguori has warned that such a move would only serve to cost Gary around $3 million in lost tax revenue each year, representing around one-third of the combined $10 million in taxes they paid to the state last year.
Furthermore, Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II would also likely be forced to shed up to 400 casinos jobs. According to Liguori, implementing a strict smoking ban would ultimately make these establishments less attractive to its patrons, while also driving gamblers towards the casinos’ competitors located nearby. This include the Ameristar Casino, and the Caesars’ Horseshoe Diamond Riverboat located just two miles and six miles away, respectively.
In addition, the development would exasperate a challenging situation in which the Majestic Stars casinos already find themselves attracting the least number of visitors out of the four riverboats based in Northwest Indiana. In 2016, for instance, the Majestic Stars reported 852,752 combined visitors, compared to the Horseshoe (1.7m), Blue Chip (1.15m), and Ameristar (1m).
Other places where smoking bans have been implemented in the past includes casinos located in the Louisiana cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with Harrah’s New Orleans complaining of having experienced a $70 million hit to its revenue since the ban came into effect back in April of 2015.