The smoking ban of New Orleans has pushed gamblers of the Harrah’s Casino outdoors. Smokers heading outside to get their fix leads to a stop in betting as well as an increase in criminal activity towards the gamblers. The casino wants to change the smoking areas for gamblers who enjoy a cigarette or cigar by offering smoking courtyards. Harrah’s has plans to create two courtyards for smoking that will also include slot machines.
On Tuesday September 1st, Harrah’s filed an application for land-use which requested the build. The company pointed out that the noise levels on the slot machines that would be used in the courtyards are adjustable, yet the typical slot machine customer is a quiet one.
The smoking ban of New Orleans went into effect on the 22nd of April. The ban included cigarettes, vaporizers, electronic cigarettes and cigars. Most indoor public spaces including bars and stadiums are to enforce the smoking ban.
Smokers visiting Harrah’s must now walk out on Canal Street to smoke. Individuals have been gathering near the South Peters Street side entrance and the Convention Center Boulevard entrance. Guests of the casino will be carrying large sums of cash and are commonly approached by individuals who are not visiting the casino and asked for money or cigarettes. This creates a concern for safety and security of the guests.
When the new ordinance was proposed, Harrah’s was vocally opposed. No smoking would keep gamblers from visiting the property and would cut into the revenues of the casino. Millions of tax dollars would be at risk as the casino pays tax revenues to the city. The company also threatened layoffs during the introduction of the smoking ban.
Once approved, Harrah’s plans on providing limited slot gaming to the smoking courtyard areas. This addition of gaming should help to offset the revenue decline that has been experienced since the smoking ban came into effect.