The gaming floors of the state’s casinos are exempt from the statewide smoking ban that began July 1st, but determining the areas where gamblers can and can’t smoke hasn’t been a simple thing according to gambling regulators. Racing and Gaming Commission administrator Jack Ketterer says questions arose about smoking in the casino restaurants.
Ketterer says for smoking to be allowed in casino restaurants, those restaurants have to be on the gaming floor and they cannot be enclosed. Ketterer says the Racing and Gaming Commission determines whether the restaurants are on the gaming floor and the Department of Public Health determines whether the restaurants are enclosed..
Ketterer says determining the parameters of the gaming floor isn’t hard to do because they already have regulations governing access to the games. He says they control where minors can and can’t be, and they have to ensure there is video surveillance of the gambling and the transportation of money, and all those things have to be inspected and approved.
Ketterer says there are some restaurants on or very close to the gaming floor that raised questions about the smoking ban. Ketterer says some casinos have a central bar in the middle of the gaming floor, and he says those would allow smoking since they don’t have any ceilings or walls around them. Ketterer says making the call on smoking in the casino restaurants isn’t any big challenge for the health department.
Ketterer says it’s something they already have to deal with, as they make determinations already on restaurants that have patios, and whether that qualifies as an outdoor area where smoking is allowed. Ketterer says the commission is in the process of taking photos of the restaurants and gaming areas to send to the health department as a reference.
Ketterer says they thought it would be helpful to have the pictures in case they get a complaint about smoking in a location, then they can look at the gaming floor picture and make a determination if there was a violation. Ketterer says he doesn’t anticipate casinos having to make any big modifications to separate smoking areas from non-smoking areas in casinos.