A bill to lift restrictions on riverboat casinos is reopening the debate of whether the state smoking ban should apply to casinos.
New Albany Representative Ed Clere has introduced a bill to remove casinos’ exemption from the smoking ban.
Gary Representative Charlie Brown co-authored the original law.
With the riverboats seeking to move inland, Brown says he may seek to add the smoking restriction to that bill when it reaches the House floor in the next week or two.
But Blue Chip Casino‘s Ryan Soultz says the presence of a Native American casino just across the Michigan border would make a smoking ban doubly damaging for the Michigan City riverboat.
"If you were to impose a smoking ban on our property, when we have a competitor 15 minutes to the north, that's a significant competitive advantage that they have," says Soultz.
Casino officials contend other states which have imposed smoking bans have seen business drop 20-percent.
Brown says that was true in Illinois in the first year of a ban, but business soon returned to previous levels.
And Brown notes Ohio‘s casinos have been smoke-free from the day they opened.