Topeka Casino officials on Friday said banning smoking from their facilities would greatly reduce revenues.
“Once you eliminate smoking in a casino, you see a 30 to 35 percent drop in revenue,” said Marty Naumann, vice president of operations for Kansas Entertainment, which is building a casino next to the Kansas Speedway.
Clint Patty, an attorney representing the Boot Hill Casino and Resort in Dodge City, said studies show that removing smoking in casinos drives down business.
Under state law, 22 percent of gambling revenues at state-owned casinos goes back to the state.
The comments came during a general discussion on smoking in casinos before the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.
A statwide ban on smoking in public, indoor places took effect July 1, but exempted casinos. A subsequent lawsuit resulted in a court order blocking the ban in 31 private clubs.
More legal challenges are expected. Many owners of bars and bingo parlors have said it is unconstitutional that they must ban smoking but that casinos are exempted.
Patty said Boot Hill spent more than $1 million on a filtration system to remove smoke from the air.
Don Brownlee, director of security for the Kanas Racing and Gaming Commission, said smoking is pervasive on the gaming floor at Boot Hill.
“The Boot Hill casino put in a fairly expensive system to try to filter that out. It doesn’t filter it all out, but for the number of smokers I see, it does a very good job of limiting the effects,” Brownlee said.