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House votes to lift casino smoking ban over Quinn’s opposition

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011

* The House narrowly approved a bill this afternoon to lift the state’s smoking ban at Illinois casinos

The proposal, which passed 62-52 and now moves to the state Senate, represents a significant softening of the state’s 2008 anti-smoking law that banned tobacco use in virtually all indoor public areas.

“Ladies and gentleman, if we’re serious about our budget crisis in Illinois, let’s be real. This is not about the smoking issue. This is about the money,” said Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), the bill’s House sponsor.

Burke said the smoking prohibition has cost the state $800 million in lost casino-tax revenues since the imposition of the ban and would put Illinois’ casinos on par with casinos in neighboring states that allow bettors to smoke.

Opponents argued that other states have added casinos, which partly accounts for Illinois’ sliding casino tax revenues, and that carving out an exemption for casinos will embolden other businesses, like bars and restaurants, to try legislatively sidestepping the smoking ban. […]

A report by the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability characterized the indoor smoking ban as “the biggest contributor” behind a 28 percent decline in casino revenues since January 2008.

* Gov. Pat Quinn, however, has said he opposes the idea. Listen…

Even if the bill makes it through the Senate, supporters have a long way to go to find the votes to override a Quinn veto. Then again, Quinn has changed his mind before.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:11 pm:

    –Burke said the smoking prohibition has cost the state $800 million in lost casino-tax revenues since the imposition of the ban and would put Illinois’ casinos on par with casinos in neighboring states that allow bettors to smoke.–

    I’d like to see a breakdown on that $800 million and how you can attribute it just to the smoking ban. The Midwest is crawling with casinos.

    Four Winds in New Buffalo, MI, went up after the ban and gets a lot of Chicago action. There’s another big one around Battle Creek.

    Still, I might pop into a casino, just for a civilized beer and a smoke like I used to enjoy.

  2. - The Foz - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:25 pm:

    It’s about time. And, it should be extended to sports bars and taverns but short of restaurants. Vote Choice. Ex-smoker.

  3. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:30 pm:

    “…the indoor smoking ban as “the biggest contributor” behind a 28 percent decline in casino revenues since January 2008.”

    I suppose the recession and high unemployment had nothing to do with this?

  4. - Frank - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:33 pm:

    I will be the exception to this rule. When I go to the Casino, I prefer Joliet to Hammond only because of the smoking ban. Oh well…

  5. - lincoln's beard - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:45 pm:

    “Ladies and gentleman, if we’re serious about our budget crisis in Illinois, let’s be real. This is not about the prostitution issue. This is about the money,”

  6. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:46 pm:

    Is the St. Louis Fed a good enough source about the impact

    Admissions figures show a decline of about 13 percent in Illinois, compared to a decline of 3 percent at the Indiana casinos.

  7. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 4:48 pm:

    More from the St. Louis Fed…

    Our results indicate that Illinois casinos suffered losses of more than 20 percent – well over $400 million – in total during the first year of the Smoke Free Illinois Act. Some of this loss appears to be associated with casino patrons gambling less when they do attend the casinos, and part of the loss is also evident in declining attendance. We find that the impact of the smoking ban on total admissions amounts to around 10 percent, with our point estimates indicating a downturn in the range of 9 to 13 percent. These estimates imply total casino tax revenue was lower by roughly $200 million.

  8. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 5:13 pm:

    I don’t believe the smoking ban is keeping people away. I’d need to seen some rigorous research.

    I can believe that people who smoke are willing to stay longer and lose more money.

  9. - Anon - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 5:14 pm:

    The entire point of the smoking ban is to protect the public, including those working in public places, from the unmitigated harm of second hand smoke. It was not imposed just to make life pleasant for those of us who cannot be around smoke.

    Any response saying that workers have the choice to work for smoking establishments or non-smoking establishments are living on a different planet. Last I checked we have over 9% unemployment. Is anyone looking for work going to turn down a job because in the long run it will cost them their health? I don’t think so. The reason we have workplace safety regulations in this state and country is to prevent employees from having to make that kind of decision.

    Either it is OK to force certain people to breath in second hand smoke for 8 hours at a time or it is not. Increases or decreases in revenue are irrelevant.

  10. - Former State Employee - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 5:21 pm:

    Disgusting. Think of all the money I’ll be saving by NEVER going to a smoke filled casino again!!

  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 5:45 pm:

    well, who wants to smell that smoke on there clothes again. ppl were content going outside to smoke.

  12. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 5:58 pm:

    Seems to be that choice should be the operative word. Allow people to choose to work or gamble in an environment of their own choosing. Freedom, what a concept.

    Spoken as a non-smoker. If you want my business, you should be smoke free, but I do not feel it my right to dictate how a private business operates.

  13. - yinn - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 6:00 pm:

    Am I the only one to see equal protection problems with this?

  14. - uwaga - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 6:01 pm:

    DOA in the Senate.. Cullerton just moved to raise taxes a dollar. he loats cigs

  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 6:03 pm:

    How is this a “choice” issue? Should we allow employers to “choose” whether or not to comply with other worker protection laws and give employees the “choice” on whether to work in a compliant factory. That’s just stupid.

  16. - Quinn T. Sential - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 6:17 pm:

    {Then again, Quinn has changed his mind before.}

    This could be the understatement of the year; and we’re only in March, and has a good chance to hold on for the under-statement of the decade, even though it is just 2011.

  17. - mokenavince - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 6:47 pm:

    Smoking stinks and the help should not have to put up with it. Who wants to back in time to match Iowa and Indiana. $800,000.00 lost because of smoking what nonsense.Burke should move to another state which allows smoking.

  18. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 6:56 pm:

    –..but I do not feel it my right to dictate how a private business operates.–

    You, as an individual, do not have that right. But states, under the Constitution, certainly do have authority and responsibility to regulate private businesses in many areas, including public health.

    If you look around the world, not just the United States, the ship has pretty much sailed as to whether cigarette smoking is a “choice” or a “right” anywhere outside of the home. The trend is clear.

    And speaking of homes, plenty of apartment and condo buildings are taking aggressive steps to enforce no-smoking bans.

  19. - Downstate Commisissioner - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 7:26 pm:

    Feel sorry for the employees (and their families, who have to smell the stinking clothes) forced to work in that crap. As for the gamblers themselves, who cares? Use the one addiction to kill off the other…

  20. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 7:59 pm:

    Maybe Americans or at least midwesterners can adopt a tribal rather than a competitive frame of reference. The competition mindset is fine for sports, but carried to the current extremes it is destroying economies with its imaginary conflict between citizen interests as investors and as members of communities.

    Like the problem of business pitting states against each other for handouts and breaks, here states are competing for lower health standards.

    When the unattended stores only have short sleeve shirts left in the confusion of a riot, looters shouldn’t gripe, “Why can’t we all get a long?”

    Enough selfishness.

  21. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 8:02 pm:

    One of the problems with the left is that they are so sanctimonious about regulating the behavior of others …..

  22. - Jo - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 8:48 pm:

    Could it also be that the Indiana casinos, (and michigan casinos) are much better than our crappy illinois side-of-the river shacks?

  23. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 9:03 pm:

    –One of the problems with the left is that they are so sanctimonious about regulating the behavior of others ….. –

    Sanctimony is in the eye of the beholder, but even a cursory look at the House roll call on the casino exemption will tell you the issue doesn’t fall into the dreary, rigid, left-right mindset. Freedom of thought, what a concept.

  24. - reformer - Tuesday, Mar 29, 11 @ 9:57 pm:

    == One of the problems with the left is that they are so sanctimonious about regulating the behavior of others …..==
    Look at the rollcall. Democrats were about two-thirds of those voting for repeal of the ban. I guess it’s the GOP side (Cross voted NO, Madigan was YES) that’s sanctimonious, right?

  25. - Newsclown - Wednesday, Mar 30, 11 @ 7:15 am:

    This is a test case. The Senate and Governor need to hold fast.

  26. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 30, 11 @ 8:09 am:

    ==I don’t believe the smoking ban is keeping people away. I’d need to seen some rigorous research.==

    Carl, the St. Louis fed has done the research

  27. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Mar 30, 11 @ 8:30 am:

    I defer to Clay Shirky and his lecture anecdote about day care centers in Tel Aviv and how changes of this kind resulting from regulation don’t just reset themselves when the regulation is changed back. Two day care centers had a problem with parents picking up their kids late by about five minutes on average. One introduced a fine for late pickup. Turned out parents viewed the fine not as a deterrent but as implicit permission to pick the kids up late; lateness soared to 15 to 20 minutes. When the fine was dropped, the habits stayed the same — the old culture of almost-in-time at the one day care center was broken, while the other center that never introduce a charge remained at about five minutes late.

    And I suspect that the old culture of gambling in Illinois is already broken. People aren’t just going to switch back from their new haunts overnight. We’re not getting that full $800 million back even if every single penny is attributable to the smoking ban, which it probably is not.

    Besides, as a couple of other posters here have noted, not everyone wants to smoke. The only way I’ll go to a casino is if I don’t have to marinate in cigarette smoke.

    There are far bigger things the state can do with both revenue and spending, and sideshows like this threaten to drag us down with their unintended consequences.

  28. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Mar 30, 11 @ 9:10 am:

    I can believe that revenues are partially down because of loss of smoker patronage. Even if smokers are still going, they are likely spending less face time being parted with their cash as they go out on the deck to enjoy a smoky treat break.

  29. - Les - Thursday, Apr 7, 11 @ 2:03 pm:

    Every single bar I go to only 1 out of 10 people are nonsmokers. And maybe 1 out of 10 bartenders or bar backs is a nonsmoker. And I as a smoker do go to neighboring states and spend my money in those states that do not band smoking. I fully support nonsmoking in restaurants I too can’t stand the smell while I am eating. But every drinker I know is a smoker and they don’t spend their money at bars in our state because they can’t smoke. Summer is one thing but winter is the worst time for these places. That is when my friends that are bartenders complain they are not making as much money in tips because the bars are empty, and not as packed as they used to be when you could smoke. Ask your local bartender if they notice a difference because of the ban or not. Our leaders in this state have made decisions like these and look at the wonderful shape our economy is everything started to go downhill after this and many other mistakes. It is about money and this would bring a whole lot back if it was passed. Everyone has a choice don’t want to be around smoke go to the bar that is in a restaurant that doesn’t allow smoking, want to smoke go to the one that dose allow it. Choices, what a concept that would be. I chose to smoke you don’t. It’s not like a bartender can choose where to work either.

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