Renewed calls for smoking to be welcomed back into Illinois’ casinos have caused quite the rumpus. The statewide smoking ban that came into effect on January 1 2008 has been blamed by various figures for a drop in revenues and tax revenue. The argument has been heating up this week on the eve of a measure being tabled in the state Senate. Released an hour before this was a study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis showing that smoking was not the root cause of the revenue losses.
Since the smoking ban, casino tax revenue has dropped by $5m in three years and Illinois gambling halls revenue fell by 22% in the year following the ban compared with neighboring states (Iowa and Missouri) seeing a rise of 2%. Add to this, the attendance figures slumping by 12% and you can see why they believe the case to allow smoking is compelling.
State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, stated, “There has been a negative revenue impact as a result of the impact of the smoking ban at the casinos.”
The earlier mentioned study found that only 24% of Illinois’ gamblers are avoiding the state’s casinos due to the smoking ban. 40% of those surveyed instead stated that a gasoline ban was more of a factor.
The professor who conducted the survey, Clyde Barrow, commented, “Smokers did not constitute a disproportionate percentage of casino gamblers in Illinois. In fact, what we found was that about 20 percent of the casino gamblers report that they are still currently smokers, whereas the prevalence rate in Illinois is about 21 percent. So it simply isn’t true that smokers are more likely to gamble at casinos than nonsmokers, as often (is) asserted.”
Maybe Illinois should take a leaf out of one Australian club’s book and put some of their tables outside, thus eliminating the problems of smoking. It is windy in Illinois so the outcome could be amusing. No one stopped to consider that by gambling, online consumers will be saving themselves gasoline money, able to smoke and won’t have to be out in cold.