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No Smoking: Casino Revenue Killer

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SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (IRN) – To hear some people tell it; the road to financial recovery in Illinois has to include smoking in casinos.   As a result the Illinois House has passed a bill allowing people to smoke in the state’s casinos but it’s not a done deal yet.

The measure that has been passed on to the Senate, would exempt the state’s casinos from Illinois’ nonsmoking law. Sponsoring State Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) says the state has missed out on more than $800 million in the three-plus years since Smoke Free Illinois became law. That, he says, is because even neighboring states with nonsmoking laws do allow smoking in the casinos.

State Rep. Tom Holbrook (D-Belleville) says, “We used to have 70 percent of the gaming revenue (in the St Louis market) on our side of the river. We now have eleven percent. How much longer are we going to give away our tax money?”

Opponents remind everyone that the nonsmoking law is, above all else, about workplace safety. State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) asks, “Why are people who work in casinos lives any less important than anybody else’s?”

Burke says his bill provides for a casino to revert to nonsmoking – if the ones across the state line do so first. After the vote, Burke said he already has a Senate sponsor – State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) – and is optimistic about the bill’s chances in that chamber.

HB 1965 has passed the House, 62-52

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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