High stakes in Missouri casino smoking debate

High stakes: The gambling industry says a smoking ban in Illinois cost that state’s casinos USD 415 million – or nearly 21 percent – in 2008, and the state USD 177 million in taxes. Colorado is the only other state that fully bans smoking in casinos, and its gambling revenues dropped significantly in the same year.

Momentum growing: Two smoking ban measures have been introduced in the Missouri Legislature, neither of which exempts casinos. Smoking ban bills also are pending or being debated in several other states.

The arguments: The industry says it should decide whether to allow patrons to smoke, and that there isn’t a big upheaval among gamblers demanding smoke-free facilities. Health advocates say everyone deserves to breathe clean air – including casino employees.