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Smoking Ban Exemption For Casinos In Kansas Has Others Crying Foul

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Kansas will be one of the states that will have the ability to put their money where there mouth is when it comes to smoking in public places. Lawmakers are considering two proposals for smoking bans in public places, but their exclusion of casinos in the ban could create a conflict of interest.

Unlike in many other states where developers own the casinos and pay taxes to the state, the four approved casinos in Kansas will be owned by the state. If lawmakers approve a smoking ban that does not include the casinos, owners of other businesses may begin to cry foul.

"It would seem that if the state passes a smoking ban and the casinos are exempt, that lawmakers would be considering the economic impact of a smoking ban in the casinos," said Barry Walten, "But at the same time, they would not be worrying about how other businesses would be effected by the ban."

The two proposals that are being discussed in Kansas would both ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places. Casinos, however, would be exempt. Although the state owns the casino, an exemption for casinos is customary even in states where private developers own the casinos.

Atlantic City officials attempted to ban smoking in the city's casinos, but the economic recession caused casino owners in the city to lobby against the ban. City officials then suspended the ban during the recession.

In Kansas, business owners are already concerned about a possible smoking ban that does not include casinos. The House and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Brenda Landwehr has also expressed concern over the smoking laws being proposed.

Kansas has had a difficult time achieving their goal of four state-owned casinos. The law has been approved by voters back in 2007, but to date, only Dodge City has a casino operating. The other three zones have all had developers back out of agreements during the economic crisis.

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