The Shreveport City Council on Tuesday tabled a plan to exempt casinos from a smoking ban. This means smoking will be banned in casinos in the northwestern Louisiana city starting Aug. 1, council members said.
In a four-hour meeting, the council at first voted 4-3 in favor of an amendment to exempt casinos from the upcoming smoking ban. However, the council then agreed to table the issue indefinitely, Randy Hayden, a consultant for Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights, told Casino.org. Hayden attended the meeting on Tuesday. The council is set to meet again July 28, he said.
Earlier Tuesday, City Council President James Flurry, who introduced the amendment to exempt casinos, told Casino.org a smoking ban at Shreveport’s two riverboat casinos would drive customers across the Red River to Bossier City. Gambling halls in Bossier City do not have a ban on smoking in casinos.
“We have to have a level playing field,” Flurry told Casino.org.
In June 2020, the council passed Ordinance No. 51, the Smoke-Free Air Act, banning smoking in bars, casinos, and gaming facilities. The act was to take effect in Aug. 8, 2020. However, the smoking ban was delayed until Aug.1, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Flurry said he voted last year to include casinos in the ban because the council thought Bossier City also would implement a ban. When that didn’t happen, Bossier City received an unfair advantage, he told Casino.org.
“Until both are doing it simultaneously, it’s not going to work,” he said.
Dispute Over Job Losses
Flurry also told Casino.org a smoking ban would cost Shreveport casino workers their jobs if patrons cross the river to gamble in Bossier City.
I’m not going to be responsible for job losses,” he said.
Raegan Carter, a spokesperson for Smoke-free Louisiana, said it is “insidious and insensitive” to imply workers will lose their jobs if a casino smoking ban in put in place.
“This is perpetuated by a multimillion-dollar industry that apparently cares more about draining money from its customers than protecting its own employees,” she said.
Limited Smoking in Las Vegas
Carter noted that one Las Vegas resort, Park MGM, is “modernizing its marketing” by banning smoking throughout the property.
The ban at Park MGM was implemented last fall after “continued guest requests,” according to Anton Nikodemus, an MGM Resorts executive. NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury “hotel-within-a-hotel” at Park MGM, also has banned smoking. Park MGM is on the west side of the Strip near T-Mobile Arena.
Also on the Las Vegas Strip, the Cosmopolitan and newly opened Resorts World Las Vegas have banned smoking on the property, except for the casino floor.
Carter said smoke-free casinos are better for workers and patrons.
“Competitive smoke-free gaming facilities all across America are attracting new customers and finding their employees are healthier and happier since the clean-air policies have been in place,” she said.
Flurry told told Casino.org his plan to exempt casinos was intended to keep Shreveport competitive with their neighbor on the east side of the Red River.
“It’s unfair,” he said of a smoking ban.
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