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Connecticut smoking ban debate heats up

14 April 2008

CONNECTICUT -- As reported by the New York Times: "The stereotypical image of players tempting Lady Luck in a smoke-filled casino could soon become a thing of the past in Connecticut.

"But efforts to ban smoking in the state's two Indian-owned casinos is turning into a test of wills between legislators pushing a bill to make the casinos smoke-free, tribes that own the casinos and Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who wants to negotiate with the owners herself.

"The State Legislature recently introduced a bill that would ban smoking in all gaming areas at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard and at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville. Both casinos now have designated smoking and nonsmoking gaming space, but some workers say it is not enough.

"...But getting the law passed has proved as difficult as rolling back-to-back sevens at the craps table.

"The governor has asked legislators to kill the bill, and has had 'very preliminary' negotiations with the tribal governments about a smoking ban, according to her spokesman, Chris Cooper.

"...But legislators said they are not going to back down. Derek Slap, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., said last week that the Senate leadership had no intention of withdrawing the bill, and that the governor always has the option of vetoing a bill once it reaches her desk.

"...Despite the fierce competition between the two casino operators for a share of the gaming market, they said that they would join forces to defeat the bill..."

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