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Smoke? You betcha

Minnesota State Roundup

January 1, 2006

Smoke? You betcha

Some things are just meant to go together. Ketchup and hot dogs. Ice cream and pie. Smoking and gambling.

That's the initial message from recent data published by the state Gambling Control Board, which saw a significant drop in lawful gambling in bars and clubs located in cities and counties that have passed smoking bans. In its fall newsletter, the agency reported that gross receipts in Hennepin County (which has a ban for bars and restaurants and is home to Minneapolis) plunged by 25 percent in 2005 over a comparable period a year earlier. Anoka County (also part of the Twin Cities metro, but has no ban) saw receipts rise by 5 percent. Figures do not include gaming activity at Indian casinos.

Statewide, gambling receipts have been slowly declining, dropping by 1.2 percent from 2003 to 2004. Through the first seven months of 2005, receipts had dropped by 5 percent compared to the same 2004 period, including 9 percent in the month of July. That gambling decline will affect not only the charities (who sponsor pull tab and other state-sanctioned gambling at authorized establishments), but will also nick state tax receipts, as 4 percent of all wagers goes to the state.

Ronald A. Wirtz