Since the casino business has never been that great in Colorado some had speculated that smoking ban effects would be the demise of the gambling business in Colorado. What has happened since then? I decided to take my electronic cigarettes to both gambling towns in the state to find out.
There has long been much speculation of smoking ban effects rippling through businesses like bars, restaurants and especially casinos in a bad way. Both local business owners and their employees are concerned that regular customers of some establishments tend to be smokers and will not patronize businesses with indoor smoking ban policies.
Some people argue that smoking ban effects will only be minimally negative or even positive considering that most of the population doesn’t smoke and the bans will increase the likelihood that this population will frequent businesses that ban smoking.
Colorado casinos located in Black Hawk / Central City and Cripple Creek banned smoking sometime in 2008. As part of my holiday vacation to Denver, Colorado I thought I would do a little investigation into smoking ban effects on casinos in particular since we planned trips to both of these gambling towns anyway.
So, what happened to me beside losing a significant chunk of my disposable income? Not a whole lot. The first trip was to Black Hawk / Central City, Colorado. I pulled out my pen style e cig at the Grand Central Station Casino and just take a few drags on the gaming floor.
The friends I went there with were curious so I gave them a demonstration and noticed people in the sealed smoking room adjacent to the gaming floor looking at me funny.
I walked around the slot machines puffing away next to other gamers and even passed by a cashier while taking a puff (even though I had covered the tip by this point to be a little more discreet). Nothing. No one gave me a lick of trouble.
On the way out of the casino I was somewhat disappointed so I decided to talk to an employee about it. I managed to get the attention of a gentleman wearing a suit that had a Grand Central Station badge so I showed him my electronic cigarette and asked him if he had seen the device before and if he knew what it was. He said that he knew what it was. I asked him if I could smoke it on the gaming floor. He said no, but that he would be happy to show me the smoker’s lounge and that I could smoke it there.
Ouch! Not good for Grand Central Station and the e smoking community.
Next stop was a casino called Mardi Gras. I did the same routine here except this time with my mini e cig that looks just like a cigarette. I covered the lighted tip and walked around puffing away. No one stopped me or complained. We had to leave this casino before I could find an employee to ask so I don’t know if this casino is even aware of the devices.
We were on our way back to the garage at Isle of Capri at this point to retrieve our car and head home for the night so I decided to give it one more try. Passing through the casino and waiting for a friend to cash in a ticket I repeated my routine once more. This time I found an attendant walking the slots and asked him about my mini e cig. He said he had never seen it before and that I would have to ask security if I could smoke it on the gaming floor.
Unfortunately I did not find someone from security at Isle of Capri to ask. We were in too much of a hurry to not lose any more money. This is just a blog after all! I did keep smoking my mini-electronic cigarette all the way to the garage however without incident.
It seems that casinos in Black Hawk / Central City, Colorado are either unaware of the devices or simply do not view them as a cure for any smoking ban effects they may see on their business.
Don’t despair though e smoking community! There is still one more gambling town and casino left. And, more money to be lost!
The final trip was to Cripple Creek, Colorado to a pair of attached casinos called The Double Eagle & Gold Creek.
At the Double Eagle I pulled out my electronic cigar because I was in a mood and just wanted to try something different. This time since I was sitting at the bar at the Double Eagle I decided to ask the bar-tender if electronic smoking is allowed. He said YES! He also said that I can smoke any electronic cigarette, cigar or pipe that I wanted and that he believes they are also sold at the gift shop.
I didn’t check the gift shop, but after realizing that I lost another 20 in the bar machine I decided to see if Gold Creek is taking their destiny into their own hands minimizing smoking ban effects on their business.
I walked down stairs to Gold Creek where the table games were located, sat down at the blackjack tables and asked if I could smoke my electronic cigar there. Another YES! I even had a brief dialog with the dealer and the other two players already at the table. The dealer was curious how it compared and if I liked it. The other two players at the table had never heard of the devices and were quite satisfied at the lack of odor and very curious about all the usual details.
I talked to a couple dealers as they rotated through asking them how business was to see if I could confirm some of the other stories I heard. Sure enough, the gambling business as a whole in Colorado has been down overall every month in 2008. Everyone cites the downturn in the economy as the biggest reason. I asked everyone I talked to if the smoking ban effects their bottom line. The all agreed that the smoking ban effects it at least some, but the main cause is the economy and that if something isn’t done soon that the gambling industry will die in Colorado.
I asked all the dealers and got some more opinions from people sitting at the table why more casinos, especially those in Black Hawk / Central City hadn’t adopted wide spread use of electronic cigarettes.
The common theme seems to be that more radical measures are necessary and the community is taking action. In December 2008 voters in Cripple Creek approved raising limits to $100, allowing casinos to stay open 24/7 and more table games such as roulette and craps. Voters will vote on similar measures for Black Hawk / Central City in January of 2009.
I would persist asking if more use of electronic cigarettes might minimize the smoking ban effects to the bottom line. The answer was usually just that it could help but that with casinos building smoking lounges it wasn’t as big of an issue and that it challenging to get the word out about this smoking alternative. Several employees agreed that when people do find out about the alternative it is not main stream enough to be used by little more than the early adopters. It seems the e smoking community has some work to do. My advice? Let’s just be discrete and help get the word out.