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Deadwood Smoke Out

November 5, 2010, 6:20 PM by Austin Hoffman

Deadwood Smoke Out
DEADWOOD, SD - This is the last weekend smokers can enjoy lighting up in their neighborhood bar.

Smoking ban opponents fear it will be the last busy weekend for Deadwood casinos, which also fall under the smoking ban.

That has some looking for ways to minimize the ban's impact on business.  But they're not coming up with many options.

The outlook for the major gaming town doesn't look good. That's because casino owners say this time of the year is already hard to begin with. But on Wednesday, a time-old tradition of casinos will be gone.

"It’s gonna be a hurter. It's really gonna be a hurter for Deadwood casinos. I think initially there's going to be a tremendous loss of revenue," Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association Tom Nelson said.

He said they'll now have to send their patrons outside to have a smoke. But for some casinos, it might be too hard to give them that space.

"The problem with Deadwood is we're pretty landlocked and building locked. So there's not a lot of room for expansion up and down Main Street," Nelson said.

Neal Slattenow is from Iowa, where the smoking ban already in place doesn't include casinos.

"If people are thinking they can’t smoke when they go in there, when they're leaving their house, they might not be so inclined to go," Slattenow said.

Both customers and business alike understand the hazards of smoking, but they say instead of getting rid of it completely, maybe some other options should have been looked at.

"We don't need 100 percent of the gaming floor to be smoking, you know.  Pick a number, maybe 20 percent could be smoking and the rest non-smoking with floor to ceiling enclosures and air handling," Nelson said.

"At least give the smokers a chance. I'm not sticking up for them but it is what it is," Slattenow said.

Nelson said since some casinos will be able to give them room outside to light up, smokers will have to choose the casino that best suits their needs. But some may find Deadwood isn't the place to be at all.

"Deadwood is really the only gaming jurisdiction in the state that has a smoking ban now. All the tribal casinos are allowed smoking," Nelson said.

Since the law specifies it applies to public places, some casinos are looking at building a pay-to-use "members only" smoking lounges. But they're not confident even that will work.

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