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Colorado casino finds smoking ban loophole

3 June 2008

COLORADO -- As reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette: "Monday, gamblers could once again smoke 'em if they got 'em at Bronco Billy's Casino in Cripple Creek.

"Colorado casinos have been smoke-free since Jan. 1, when a statewide smoking ban was extended to gaming establishments. The law, however, has a loophole that allows smoking at cigar bars - defined as a bar that earns at least 5 percent of its annual gross income or $50,000 annually from the sale of tobacco products. That's the exemption Bronco Billy's is claiming. One other casino in the state, the Wild Card in Black Hawk, has also claimed exemption as a cigar bar.

"Mark Murphy, coowner of Bronco Billy's, said he has tracked tobacco revenue closely since 2005, when the smoking ban was enacted, to make sure his casino qualified for the exemption. Going smoke-free through the first quarter of 2008 was a test - one his business didn't pass.

"...Casino revenue has been down every month this year, with Cripple Creek revenues dropping a record $2.3 million in March and off $1.6 million in April compared with 2007. High gas prices and a sluggish economy may deserve some of the blame, but casino owners say the smoking ban is the biggest culprit..."

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