Dubuque Telegraph Herald. July 10, 2022.
Editorial: Smoke-free casinos aren’t a bad choice for Iowa
It’s been 14 years since restaurants and bars in Iowa went smoke-free. It’s hard to remember the days of smoking areas in restaurants and smoky bars, and few complaints about breathing clean air in public spaces.
As much as guests love the law, bartenders and servers appreciate it even more; they own the lungs, protected from the secondhand smoke they have long been forced to breathe. That was the impetus for the law – to create a safer work environment for bar and restaurant workers.
Unfortunately, casino employees were not given the same protection.
The state of Iowa created a loophole for casinos because it could hurt profits, officials said at the time. Eventually, it became the accepted wisdom in the casino industry that eliminating smoking would automatically result in reduced revenue and lost customers.
Of course, many restaurants and bars thought the change would be just as ruinous, but they were forced to adapt. And for the most part, the change has been a good thing. Smokers have learned to go outside to quench their habit. Casinos would probably find the same thing.
More evidence is now coming in a report showing things have changed in the wake of the pandemic.
The report came from Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming, although the research was conducted independently and no outside party paid for it. The pandemic has turned the casino experience upside down with the closure of buffets and room service, and fewer housekeeping services. Guess what? Players got used to it. In many places, they even played with masks for more than a year.
Perhaps, industry experts suspect, customers would get used to a smoking ban.
“Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly shows that the smoking ban is no longer leading to a dramatic drop in gaming revenue,” the report said. “In fact, non-smoking accommodations appear to be doing better than their counterparts, where smoking is still allowed.”
The report examined casino performance in numerous states since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 and found that “those casinos that implemented smoking bans did not experience a drop in revenue or lost market share to nearby casinos that continued to offer smoking environments.”
The report bolsters efforts in several states considering banning smoking in casinos. Illinois has already made the leap – so Bally’s in Rock Island, a non-smoking casino, competes with Rhythm City Casino Resort on the Iowa side. Somehow both survive. Ho-Chunk Gaming in Madison advertises its non-smoking casino status in its advertising. Gamblers playing video slots in East Dubuque’s bars are not allowed to smoke, however Dubuque’s casinos have warned that these machines put their earnings at risk.
In fact, there are more than 1,000 gaming establishments in the US that are now smoke free.
Iowa should give such a move the same consideration. It is disingenuous to tout the state’s smoke-free environment to workers while at the same time – in the name of the state’s gaming revenues – forcing casino workers to continue to endure an indoor smoking environment. The impact on sales appears more nebulous than ever.
Fourteen years is long enough. It’s time to close the loophole that allows smoking in casinos.
Quad City times. July 10, 2022.
Editor: Do you want to stop mass shootings? Ban high capacity magazines
The sniper who fired more than 70 rounds at a crowded July 4 parade near Chicago killed seven people and injured three dozen others. Before the shooting, he obtained five weapons, including the rifle used in the massacre. Police described it as “similar to an AR-15”. He bought the guns despite police visits to his home in 2019 over threats of violence and suicide.
For more than 20 years, this country has been locked in a heated debate over how to stop mass shootings, a debate largely framed by extremists on both sides of the aisle. It is high time that common sense people took control of this debate so that real change can be made. We support some solutions – mental health services, better background checks – although they may take years to develop.
But our nation does not have years to wait. We must act now. We must ban high capacity magazines.
It’s a step we can take immediately to curb mass shootings, particularly those in which gunmen use high-capacity magazines to fire dozens of rounds in moments.
It is not a political issue for this board. It’s a practical one.
Look at the numbers. “If the key gun control proposals now under consideration in Congress had been law since 1999, four gunmen under the age of 21 would have been barred from legally purchasing the guns they used in mass shootings,” according to the New York Times. “At least four other attackers would have been subjected to a required background check instead of slipping through a loophole. Ten may have been unable to steal their guns because of efforts to demand or promote safer gun storage. And 20 might not have been allowed to buy the large-capacity magazines they used to upgrade their guns and help them kill an average of 16 people at a time.”
Weapons and magazines designed for modern warfare should not be available to the general public.
Make no mistake, this board is an active defender of the Bill of Rights. This newspaper and journalists across the country have fought to uphold their freedoms protected by law, particularly under the First Amendment, which states, “Congress shall not make any law … restricting freedom of speech or of the press.” But libel laws, privacy restrictions and other state regulations restrict the press and do not adhere to the specific language that Congress does not legislate. Speech has also been regulated since the ratification of the constitution.
The Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated militia, necessary to the security of a free state, shall not violate the right of people to possess and bear arms.” But the government is already taking steps to confiscate weapons of mass destruction from the population keep away. (Think Tommy submachine guns.)
For these reasons, we believe that a ban on high-capacity magazines does not violate the Second Amendment.
People’s right to assemble without fear of mass shooting should trump people’s insistence on owning weapons designed to kill large numbers of people in a short period of time.
We can no longer tolerate the slaughter of children, if only for any other reason. Protect our loved ones from these lunatics. Ban high-capacity magazines – before another mass shooter strikes.
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