A Massachusetts bill authorizing licenses for three casinos in the state includes a provision to allow smoking in up to 25 percent of gaming areas, the Associated Press reported June 23.
“The marketing study has shown without smoking, it would dramatically affect your revenues and the amount people play,” said state Sen. Steven Pangiatakos. The study, commissioned by the Senate, looked at three slot-machine parlors in Delaware whose profits dropped 11 percent after the state banned smoking, though business eventually recovered.
The bill would contravene a six-year-old prohibition on smoking in workplaces, bars, and restaurants in the state, making Massachusetts the first state to make smoking in casinos legal following a statewide ban. Clear signage and effective ventilation in smoking areas would be required.
The bill has local businesses unhappy over uneven competition and anti-smoking advocates incensed by the blow to public-health policy.
“This is step backwards in terms of protecting the rights of patrons and workers,” said Russet Morrow Breslau, executive director of Tobacco Free Mass.