Smoking good for health of charitable gaming

Minnesota State Roundup

Published September 1, 2008  | September 2008 issue

If smoking can relieve stress, then right about now charitable gaming operations are looking for a light. According to a spring report by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, the industry has seen a significant drop in revenues, thanks in part to the state’s ban on smoking.

The smoking ban was put in place in October 2007, affecting virtually all indoor public areas and places of employment, including bars and private clubs, where most charitable gaming takes place. The report found a clear correlation between the smoking ban and lower charitable gaming receipts over the last three months of 2007.

Charitable gaming receipts had been on the decline, falling an average of more than 2 percent annually over the past half decade. But gross receipts for the last three months of 2007 fell 13 percent—some $40 million—over the same period a year earlier. Gambling sites in relative proximity to areas without a smoking ban—such as across state lines—saw even bigger revenue drops.

The report acknowledged that economic factors like rising gas prices and a soft state economy likely contributed to the decline, but could not explain the magnitude of the decline seen in the last three months of 2007.

Ronald A. Wirtz