Smoking could be banned in Iowa casinos. State lawmakers gathered Tuesday to talk about the plan.
When Iowa passed the Smoke-free Air Act in 2008, casinos were exempt from the bill.
Now, lawmakers are taking a closer look at what it would mean to ban smoking in Iowa casinos.
Mary Ellen Chamberlin heads the board that's helping purchase a davenport land-based casino. She says in most cases, casinos see a 20% decline in revenue when they ban smoking. If that money disappears from the casino, she adds that's less money going back to the government and local programs
"When you consider the income from the casinos goes to the state level and you figure a 20% decline, that's a pretty substantial loss to the state if they do pass a smoking ban," says Mary Ellen Chamberlin, member of the Riverboat Development Authority.
Chamberlin adds that regardless of whether or not smoking gets banned - it won't affect the purchase of a Davenport land-based casino.
One QC business owner who says a proposed ban would be a dream come true.
Mark McClintock has owned Boozie's in Davenport for many years. He said at first, his bar and grille suffered when he had to ban smoking. But he says if the casinos have to ban it too, he might get some customers back
"It equals the playing field out and makes it equal for everybody," says McClintock.
He says when they were forced to go smoke free more than 4 years ago; the casino had the upper hand.
"People can go there and smoke and drink if they want so maybe they'll come here now instead of going there," he adds.
McClintock admits after the initial dive in sales, business leveled out. He adds his bar never fully recovered, but his restaurant was a different story. Folks liked the idea of a smoke free meal.
"I just had a guy come in and saying they were happy and they came from a different state where you could smoke and then came here and were real happy you couldn't smoke when you come in places," he explains.
While local gamblers we spoke with say they're split on the possible ban.
"It would be better if we don't have to smell like cigarettes when we're leaving," says Emily Shrack, a former smoker who supports the possible ban.
"I wouldn't like it," says Glenn Anderson, an avid smoker. ‘That's why I don't go to Illinois for gambling because I'm a smoker and I don't want to go off to a room and leave my machine."
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