Harrah's has plans of its own about city's smoking ban

Harrah's has plans of its own about city's smoking ban

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Harrah's announced Wednesday that it is not giving up when it comes to lighting up indoors.

"We're balancing the risk," Harrah's spokesperson Jade Russell said, "and I think we would be willing to assume the cost."

Russell said the casino predicts funding for education and public safety will decrease by $1.8 to $3.6 million when New Orleans' smoking ban goes into effect April 22.

"There's a couple of different layers that this would impact the state on, but the state would be looking at a 20 percent decline in what we send up to them," Russell said.

In an effort to lessen the possible loss of revenue, the casino made a proposal to the city to create a smoke-free section. The section would be fully enclosed and make a new gaming area completely separate from smoke-free sections.

"I think the lives of our citizens are worth not budging. For one time, let's be for what is right and let us be here for the health of our people," New Orleans Councilwoman Latoya Cantrelle said.

Cantrelle pushed to make smoking illegal inside New Orleans businesses. She called the proposal unfair to other businesses and Harrah's employees.

"Smoke-free environments are the best thing that can happen to our employees," Cantrelle said. "So Harrah's wants to talk about money being lost. We're losing billions on healthcare because of these environments."

Russell would not say whether she believes the proposal would give the casino special treatment. Russell said lease payments to the city could be reduced by as much as $13.6 million annually while sales tax revenues would decline by more than $500,000.

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