You know that smoking ban in South Dakota? It went into effect in 2010. Well, some North Sioux City casino's have found a way around it.
When the ban started, it snuffed out a significant amount of business at Ike's Bingo & Casino.
"We immediately lost 50 patrons a day, which gave us a net loss of about 1,000 patrons a month," said Lynn Hoffman, general manager.
They tried to keep smoking patrons by putting up an outdoor facility. It wasn't working.
"Not really the nicest facility, because one end of the building had to be open. That put everyone out in the weather, cold, rain," said Hoffman.
So, Hoffman says they came up with another idea, install a garage door they could open during business hours.
"A garage door would be excluded from the statute, and wouldn't qualify," said Union County State's Attorney Jerry Miller.
Miller says a lot of casinos in town have tried using a garage door to keep people puffing and playing inside. He says the state statute forbids it.
"A door is a door," said Jerry Miller.
Miller has analyzed the ban and sees a way around it. He says a casino could cut a hole in one of their walls. It wouldn't have to be very tall, only a few inches. But, the hole would need to run the length of the wall. Supports can remain so the structure is stable.
"If there is a break between the floor and the ceiling, that is exclusive of a doorway, then it meets the statute," said Miller.
Ike's has given it a try. They cut a hole in the back of their smoking room. You can't see it. It's been covered by a soffit. On the outside it's hidden with an eyebrow and grate. It keeps the outside out, smokers happy, and it's totally legal.
"We are not back to where we were. But, every week we're adding a few more people that are finding out they can enjoy themselves, have their cigarette," said Hoffman.
Hoffman says Ike's is also working on adding a wall break in their casino area too. They expect to have it finished within a month.
By the way, breaking the smoking ban could land you with a $25 fine.
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