How Will the Smoking Ban Affect New Orleans Casinos?

In April 2014, the city of New Orleans completely outlawed smoking in bars, restaurants, casinos, and other public areas.

The law’s objective was to expand the state’s current smoking bans inside city limits. According to the new regulation, smoking is prohibited five feet from all buildings, including public parks, colleges, and even the jails and prisons in the city.

Using vaporizers and e-cigarettes is seen as smoking as well. So that is also prohibited.

What is the attitude of New Orleans’s casino owners toward it?

They’re angry.

The Louisiana State Police, which regulates gaming in the state, estimated that the imposition of this restriction will cost the state $104 million in taxes and fees. The Gaming Enforcement Commission’s notes on a research on smoking bans in Delaware and Atlantic City gaming establishments provided that figure.

The analysis, which you can view as a PDF file here, correctly estimated that Delaware’s gaming hall smoking prohibition would result in a 12% drop in state revenue. Although it hasn’t been verified yet, a different component of the study projected a sharp 20% drop in Atlantic City’s earnings over the course of two years following the implementation of a smoking ban in South Jersey.

Their case is rather straightforward. “[Casinos, restaurants, and bars] argue that tourists come to New Orleans because they like to gamble and drink,” the New Orleans advocate states. The city was among the latest to permit smoking in specific public areas. Removing Win buzz that will alter people’s perceptions of New Orleans.

How many will just choose to leave again?

How have they responded to it?

The ban’s detractors have been vocal.

Initially, Harrah’s attempted to postpone the restriction, saying they required more time to assist their staff and clients in acclimating to the new guidelines. The smokescreen was exposed by the New Orleans City Council, which shamed Harrah’s for attempting to change the law for their personal gain. As for Harrah’s, the casino is currently engaged in a challenging and expensive lease renegotiation with New Orleans that must be interpreted as an attempt at retaliation.

Harrah’s made a very wise move after that. The establishment made a big show of becoming “the first smoke-free casino in Louisiana” prior to the prohibition taking effect. Two days prior to the ban’s implementation, they ceremoniously removed ashtrays at midnight, gave out lollipops to irate smokers, and made a great deal out of their early acceptance.

They were always preparing a counterattack, so it was a very wise move.

Subsequently, Harrah’s teamed up with numerous other nearby companies impacted by the prohibition and brought a civil case to overturn it. This was a more successful action. It highlighted the possible loss of money confronting the city and included a number of significant local businesses, such as Pat O’ Brien’s, Broussard’s, and several other notable New Orleans establishments.

May 21 was the scheduled date of the hearing. That Harrah’s-imposed lease discussion with the city? According to Harrah’s, the cost of enforcing the smoking ban on their lucrative gaming business may cost New Orleans anywhere from $4 to $30 million.

Who gains from the smoking ban in New Orleans?

Though not overly so, I am cynical. This could also be smarmy.

That’s fine with me.

The following people gain from the smoking ban in New Orleans:

Everyone benefits when they go to pubs, hotels, restaurants, casinos, and other public places.

Secondhand smoke is known to be harmful. According to the American Cancer Society, 42,000 individuals die each year from secondhand smoke. Unless you’re an anarchist, libertarian, or whatever, you presumably agree that it should be illegal since it’s awful.

Beyond that, though, people these days avoid locations where smoking is permitted. The days of returning home from your waitressing job smelling like a cigarette were long gone because everyone smoked. Times have changed. Fewer people smoke these days, and those who do tend to avoid the company of smokers.

City Council Member Latoya Cantrell, who sponsored the law and has been vocal about her support for it, points out that secondhand smoke exposure costs the state millions of dollars a year in healthcare costs. There is also that to think about. It might be fiscally irresponsible to continue to allow smoking in public, at least according to the ban’s proponents.

What thereafter will transpire?

Harrah’s is trying to put its money where its mouth is, threatening to shrink its state-mandated work force from 2,400 to 1,500. They are currently considering laws that would enable them to carry out this exact function.

With pressure on the city council from judges more than ready to rule in favor of existing liberties, it’s not totally clear that the city will be able to maintain the ban as it exists now.

Bartenders and business owners continue to make the same point – you’ll read it in this article from VICE and in this from the Guardian. What is going to happen when neighboring businesses get sick of the smokers pouring out of bars, casinos, and restaurants every few minutes? That seems to be the real threat to shop owners concerned about their customers getting up and leaving to satisfy their nicotine habit.

If I had to make a prediction, I’d say that the ban is here to stay. I can’t find a single example of a city getting rid of a smoking ban once it’s been put in place. It just doesn’t happen. As for how the city will be affected, I’d predict that Harrah’s is going to continue making a stink until they earn an exemption from the New Orleans City Council.

That means the city will rule in favor of the civil rights of customers at a single business. That will be a weird day, indeed.

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