The smoke clouding Massachusetts’ casino debate could finally be clearing.
Four days after the Senate killed a plan allowing smoking on the floor of the state’s proposed casinos, a handful of senators tried and failed to put the ashtray back on the table yesterday.
“I don’t think the votes are there,” said Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, who argues smoke-free casinos couldn’t compete with existing New England gaming venues that allow smoking.
But while Panagiotakos says smoke-free casinos could cost the state up to $95 million in revenue, overturning the ban will infuriate restaurateurs who claim a 2004 law prohibiting smoking in most workplaces hurt business.
“How can they allow it in casinos and not allow it elsewhere?” Peter Christie, CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said. “It seems all in the interest of money. What makes casinos different?”
Meanwhile, if a Native American tribe is awarded a casino they could bypass a smoking ban by citing sovereignty.
“They will do anything they can to keep smoking,” said Stephanie Steinberg of the Denver-based group Smoke-Free Gaming.
– State House News Service contributed to this report.