Ohio casinos want slots in smoking areas

CINCINNATI (AP) – Ohio’s casinos are planning to ensure gamblers can still feed the slot machines during their smoke breaks.

Major casinos in Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo want to install slot machines in designated smoking areas while keeping their main gambling floors smoke-free.

Cincinnati’s downtown casino proposed plans to install about 150 slot machines and other gambling devices on a nearly 10,000-square-foot smoking deck now under construction, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Officials with the Columbus and Toledo casinos are also working on installing slot machines to their smoking decks.

Ohio’s smoking ban has been seen as a competitive advantage to three riverboat casinos in southeast Indiana, where smoking is allowed.

Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for Penn National Gaming Inc., which operates the Columbus and Toledo casinos, said that adding smoking areas for gamblers “is a way to meet customer demand.”

Regulators with the Ohio Casino Control Commission said they are reviewing the Cincinnati casino’s proposal and will approve it as long as it meets requirements.

All five of Ohio’s racinos have at least a few slots in smoking areas, but the scope of the Cincinnati casino’s proposed gambling area for smokers is larger than anything currently in the state.

One-third of Ohio casino gambling revenue goes to the state in taxes. The Cincinnati casino could generate an additional $10 million in annual gambling revenue with the added slot machines if they generate the property’s average $175 daily unit revenue.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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