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Bars to Unplug Lottery Machines in Protest

11 June 2003

ALBANY, New York -- Angered by the anti-smoking law that takes effect this summer, a coalition of bar and restaurant owners planned a second round of protests by unplugging their lottery machines to deprive the state of lottery sales.

About 350 owners turned off their Quick Draw machines last month, costing the state $682,413 in sales, said Carolyn Hapeman, a lottery spokeswoman.

Another protest is planned for next Monday and will last a week to coincide with the end of the legislative session, said Scott Wexler of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association.

"We're working very hard to get some relief before the end of session," Wexler said. Wexler said it was not immediately known how many bar and restaurant owners will participate.

Restaurant and bar owners receive a 6-cent commission on every dollar spent on Quick Draw.

During the first protest, retailers lost $41,945 in commissions.

The smoking ban takes effect July 24 in virtually all businesses including bars, certain restaurants, betting parlors, bowling alleys and pool halls. In recent weeks, tavern owners have lobbied lawmakers to relax the law by allowing bars and restaurants to have separate smoking rooms.

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