Supporters say it will save in health insurance costs, but Casino Aztar representatives say a ban could mean millions is lost revenue and nearly 300 jobs lost.
It was a sea of red at Monday’s city council meeting. Riverboat workers like Gordon Jones asked council members to exempt Casino Aztar from a proposed city-wide smoking ban.
“It was a ghost town in Atlantic City when they went to those bans, so I am scared that would happen with Casino Aztar.”
Aztar General Manager Ward Shaw told city council members a smoking ban could mean a 30-percent loss in revenue.
“280 jobs lost, in this community, is the equivalent of closing down Old National.”
He says that would mean a million and half less dollars going to companies that supply Aztar, more than $4 million less tax revenue to the City of Evansville, and possibly 280 casino jobs eliminated.
Stephanie Steinberg with Smoke-Free Gaming of America says smoking costs more than $7 billion in health costs every year.
“Casino workers should be wearing one of these, this is a ventilator.”
Now, city council members will have a decision to make.
Casino Aztar’s general manager presented each board member with letters from casino workers like Jones, asking them not to ban smoking on the riverboat.
“I would love the city council members to come down. I will be working all next weekend, and they can talk to me, talk to the patrons and see what they think as well.”
The Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce have passed both resolutions. They say the casino should be exempt from a smoking ban.
The proposed ordinance will be up for public comment February 13th.