Bill would allow casinos to set up smoking rooms

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An Illinois House committee has approved a measure that would allow gamblers to smoke for the first time in nearly three years on riverboat casinos.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois House committee has approved a measure that would allow gamblers to smoke for the first time in nearly three years on riverboat casinos.

The legislation sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Andre Thapedi would permit the state’s nine casinos to set up segregated, enclosed smoking areas.

Proponents say the 2008 statewide smoking ban has hurt gambling because money has gone to other states that still allow smoking on riverboats. Opponents say the legislation is a step backward for public health and that revenue is governed by how nice the facility is — not whether you can smoke in it.

Thapedi says a study has shown that Illinois is losing $200 million a year in gambling revenue by banning smoking.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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