Friday, December 05, 2008

Smoking ban hurts Illinois casinos 20% as predicted

The big gambling states— Nevada, New Jersey and Mississippi—are off 5 percent to 7 percent in casino revenue. But the picture is worst in Illinois, where casino revenue is down 20.3 percent this year.

Gambling officials estimate that the state will get between $150 million and $160 million less in taxes, most of it earmarked for education. Statewide, the eight communities with casinos will see $20 million to $25 million less than they took in last year, officials estimate.

While casinos in Illinois struggle, across the border in Indiana, revenues are down by only three-quarters of a percent, according to the American Gaming Association.

"They have basically the same economy, the same weather" as Illinois, Swoik said. "The only difference is the smoking ban."

The state's gambling industry will lobby for an exemption that would allow smokers to puff away at Illinois tables again, he said.,0,1201776.story

Illinois could solve its smoking ban problem by instituting the Chicago air filtration exemption statewide: Any venue can allow smoking that through air filtration makes its air cleaner than the air outdoors.