The administrator of the State Racing and Gaming Commission says it will take some time before the impact of the statewide smoking ban is known on casinos. While the casinos received an exemption that allows smoking on their gambling floors, smoking is not allowed in other areas of the facilities.
Commission administrator, Jack Ketterer says he can’t draw any conclusions about the change since its only a couple of weeks old. Ketterer says you have to look back on the last three years where overall state gaming revenues have been up — but that increase is due to the opening of new casinos. He says the revenues at the existing casinos have declined over the last three years.
The new fiscal year for the casinos started on July 1st, the same day the smoking ban took effect. Ketterer says he expected before this fiscal year started that the revenues would be flat or declining, so if revenues decline, he’s not sure how much can be attributed to smoking. Ketterer says the increase in gas prices and other economic conditions may also have an impact on revenue this fiscal year.
Ketterer says it will be interesting to see if other states that experienced a decline in revenue after smoking bans will continue to see the revenue down, or if the decline will gradually stop. He says those other states are a better indication of the impact of a smoking ban.