Smoking ban supporters at a recent city council meeting

Smoking ban at Gary's casinos loses steam

Contributed By:The 411 News

Supporters of "Smoke-Free in the G" campaign say they will be back

The arguments have been silenced over Gary’s proposed ordinance that would ban smoking at the city’s casinos and a piece of legislation seen by the casinos as harming their profits.

Controversy and a long debate over the ban were expected. The smoking ban was on the agenda at Monday night’s Gary City Council finance committee. So large was the attendance that the meeting was moved from the small council conference room to the full council chambers.

In an unexpected statement by 6th District City Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade, the ordinance’s sponsor, the measure will die. “After examining both sides, I cannot support this ordinance. I will withdraw my sponsorship,” Sparks-Wade told the committee.

Gary’s Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson thanked Wade for announcing she would pull the ordinance. “We have to be realistic. Since the establishing of property tax caps, our revenues are limited. We depend on casino revenues. If we’re going to be smoke-free, everybody has to be on a level playing field. Smoker’s will go to the casinos in East Chicago and Hammond.”

When the ordinance was first introduced to the council, Majestic Star’s chief executive officer Peter Liguori said the smoking ban would be a catastrophe. “Majestic Star Casinos are among the city’s top 5 employers with a third of our 1000 employees being Gary residents. It would mean jobs lost. Gary would see a decline of gaming tax revenues of over $3 million a year. Lake County would lose $400,000 in gaming tax revenues yearly. And property tax revenues would also decrease.”

Liguori and 25 Majestic Star staff were at that November 7 council meeting. Monday’s meeting drew about 100-plus Majestic Casino staffers.

Supporters of the ordinance said they will be back. “It took us 3 tries to get the casino in South Bend to go smoke-free.” Gary’s smoke-free campaign was sponsored by a coalition of health agencies including the Indiana state office of the American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

Story Posted:11/21/2017

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