St. Louis County Officials Reach Middle Ground on Indoor Casino Smoking

Posted on: August 10, 2023, 10:37h. 

Last updated on: August 10, 2023, 10:39h.

The St. Louis County Council reaches compromise with Penn Entertainment regarding indoor smoking at River City Casino and Hollywood Casino.

Image of a gambler smoking in a casino
A gambler smokes a cigarette while playing a slot machine in Atlantic City. The two casinos in St. Louis County, Mo., are likely going to have to limit indoor casino smoking to 50% of their gaming spaces should a county executive sign off on the county legislature’s amendment to its smoking law. (Image: AP)

Penn Entertainment, the casino operator of River City Casino and Hollywood Casino, has reached a compromise with the St. Louis County Council regarding indoor smoking at the two casinos. Previously, there were discussions about making the casinos completely smoke-free, but Penn Entertainment argued that such a regulation would put them at a disadvantage compared to other Missouri casinos.

In 2002, Missouri passed the Clean Indoor Air Law, requiring most indoor workplaces to be smoke-free. However, there were exceptions for businesses like bars and casinos. Each county has the authority to determine its own tobacco rules.

In 2018, St. Louis County voters banned cigarette use inside casinos. However, two years later, the ban was reversed due to reports of reduced gaming revenue and a decrease in annual tax benefits for the county.

Since a temporary ban on indoor smoking during the pandemic, Penn Entertainment has allowed smoking on the gaming floors of River City Casino and Hollywood Casino. However, many non-smokers have complained about the lack of smoke-free gaming areas.

Casino Compromise

The St. Louis County Council has decided not to make River City Casino and Hollywood Casino completely smoke-free. Instead, they have passed an ordinance that limits smoking to only up to 50% of the gaming space in the casinos.

Up to 50% of the area of a state-licensed gambling facility where gaming is allowed for those twenty-one (21) years of age or older, including any VIP lounge accessible only through the game floor, whether or not gaming is allowed in the VIP lounge,” the county statute now reads.

According to the new ordinance, violators can be fined up to $250 for smoking in areas where it is not permitted. The ordinance is expected to be signed by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.

Horseshoe Ringer

The City of St. Louis, which is surrounded by St. Louis County, is home to Horseshoe St. Louis, the only casino in the city. The Horseshoe allows indoor smoking throughout its gaming floor. However, for those seeking a smoke-free environment, the DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois, offers clean air. Illinois state law prohibits indoor smoking in commercial casinos.

According to the American Gaming Association, only 10 states have complete casino smoking bans. These states include Illinois, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, and South Dakota.

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