SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Tom Arcenaux will not veto a move by the city council to allow smoking in 25 percent of the gaming area in casinos throughout the city.
A media release from the mayor’s office explains that he will not veto Ordinance 46 because “there are sufficient votes on the council to override any veto of Ordinance 46.”
Arceneaux said he was moved by opponents of smoking who made appeals to the council during public comments.
“The opponents of Ordinance 46 presented compelling testimony about the health dangers of second-hand smoke. Particularly moving was the testimony by a woman on oxygen who apparently contracted breathing difficulties while breathing second-hand smoking working at a casino. She had never been a smoker,” Arceneaux wrote.
The mayor continued by stating that for the foreseeable future non-smoking areas of the casinos would only consist of machines, not table games such as poker and blackjack.
“Dealers and managers will have to choose between risk to their health from second-hand smoke and their livelihoods,” Arceneaux said.
The gaming industry made the case for smoking to return to the gaming floor after they claim the 2021 ban caused major profit losses, and a competitive disadvantage to Bossier City casinos. He pointed out that while the losses are real, the casinos have not done much to balance this themselves.
“However, based on my observation, neither casino has made any significant effort to avail itself of the competitive advantage of offering smoke-free gaming to the likely majority of gaming customers who do not smoke,” Arceneaux said.
After stating his opinion and asserting his stance to not impose a veto, Arceneaux listed six expectations that he hopes leaders in Shreveport’s riverfront gaming industry will heed.
- If prohibiting smoking was a substantial cause of decreased revenue, revenues should see an immediate and substantial increase. If not the City should revisit the smoking issue.
- The casinos should make significant investments in facilities and programming to make them competitive with the most successful casinos on the east side of the Red River.
- The casinos should ensure that the non-smoking sections of the casinos have separate ventilation systems that reduce the impact of second-hand smoke on non-smoking patrons and employees.
- The casinos should accommodate non-smoking employees who choose to work in the non-smoking areas of the casinos. I urge both casinos to arrange scheduling to accommodate non-smoking workers, rather than the other way around.
- The casinos should ensure that the entrances to the non-smoking areas do not require patrons or employees seeking to play to work there to pass through smoking areas.
- The casinos should make the same gaming options available in the non-smoking areas as the smoking areas for the benefit of both non-smoking patrons and non-smoking employees such as dealers and managers.
Arceneaux concluded his message by suggesting a statewide smoke-free statute.
“The City hopes that appropriate governing authorities would make all the casinos on both sides of the Red River smoke-free. Governments could accomplish that by making each side’s ordinance effective upon the adoption by the other of the smoking ban.