IU Professor Says Smoke-Free Does Not Hurt Casinos

A study found that a smoke-free air law in Fort Wayne did not decrease the number of customers attending the off-track betting facility in that area.

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Photo: Lori Rivera (Flickr)

Casinos like this one in Evansville might be exempt from a state wide smoking ban.

While legislators are debating a statewide smoke-free air law throughout Indiana, exceptions to this ban could include casinos and other off-track betting facilities. An Indiana University study found that a smoke-free air law in Fort Wayne did not decrease the number of customers attending the off-track betting facility in that area.

Fort Wayne has prohibited smoking in all workplaces, including gambling facilities since 2007. Jon Macy is the assistant professor in IU’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and the lead author of the study. He compared the Fort Wayne facility to those in Indianapolis and Merrillville, where smoking is permitted.

“There are certainly people who probably choose to go to places because they are now smoke-free,” he said, “because they have a better understanding of the negative consequences of secondhand smoke so they don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke or they don’t want their children to be exposed to secondhand smoke.”

Jim Bretz is the facility manager of Indiana Downs off-track betting in Evansville. He is concerned about the effect of a statewide smoking ban because of the number of customers who smoke.

“We here at the OTB look at that in two different ways,” he said. “Obviously, from a health standpoint it would be a big plus, it would be a positive. Unfortunately, from the business standpoint we feel like it would be a negative because of the number of our customers who do smoke.”

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