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I Was in Casino and Shocked

State Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) says that if every other business, like it or not, has to tell smokers to bug off, casinos should, too,

I get the part about fairness. If bars, at least the smoky-dive kind, justly complain that having to leave to have a cig will likely depress their trade, why shouldn’t casinos, which already get an immensely valuable special privilege (being able to offer legalized gambling) on no more basis than that their owners are of a favored ethnicity, be exempted? Said Kaufert to the Appleton Post Crescent:

“ ‘It’s a fairness issue,’ said Kaufert, a Neenah Republican who has been contacted by constituents regarding the reach of the ban. ‘A statewide ban should truly be a statewide ban. There shouldn’t be pockets where people don’t have to comply with the state.’”

Though my question would be: If the smoking ban is an unthinkingly stupid law (and it is), aren’t pockets of legal immunity better no chance at all to defy the prohibitionists?

Look, some people like to smoke, even if you and I don’t, and smoking is legal. The ban is predicated on a number of faulty ideas, one of them that in no place should there be an expectation of smoky air. That’s why the law bans any new cigar bars – if you’d think there was a place you’d expect to find smoky air, it would be a cigar bar, yes? – and the calculation is plainly that there should be nowhere in the state that people bothered by smoke say, “I like that place, but the trade-off is that it’s smoky, so maybe I won’t go.”

Every Wisconsin casino I’ve been in – about a half-dozen, though I don’t gamble – has been at least a little smoky. Tribes say they install big-time ventilation, and I’m sure they do, but in places dedicated to the vices of gambling, drinking, staying up too late and, at the buffet, gluttony, that the scent of yet another vice lingers in the air is no surprise.

Tribes, plainly, think the majority of their gamblers are OK with this. If they thought there was any advantage in it, they’d be smokeless in an instant, but they are obviously attuned to the fullest kind of democracy: the preferences of the majority of their paying customers. Why impose on them what shouldn’t have been imposed on bars and hookah lounges in the first place?

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