Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel and Casino has been grappling with the question of what to do with smokers ever since the city banned smoking in indoor public spaces as well as bars and stadiums. The ban, which came into effect in April this year, is immensely unpopular with the entertainment, hospitality, and gambling industries on account of the restrictions it places on patrons who happen to be smokers. As expected, the new ban prohibits the use of cigarettes and cigars, but what is surprising is that it also bans the use of electronic cigarettes and nicotine vaporisers.
As a matter of fact, Harrah’s has opposed the ban right from the time it was proposed. The company insisted that the ban would result in reduced earnings because smokers would not be comfortable gambling for long periods without the opportunity to light up. In fact, the casino even said that it would be compelled to lay off employees.
It is easy to see why, since all open areas near the entrances of the casino are now filled with people who need to smoke. In fact, one can always see people standing at the South Peters Street and Convention Centre Boulevard sides of the casino, which is located on Canal Street. Not only do these crowds of people outside the casino look bad, but the casino also loses out on revenues whenever a patron spends time outside smoking a cigarette instead of gambling at the slot machines or at the game tables.
There is also a security angle that will explain Harrah’s eagerness to make arrangements for its customers who smoke. Very often people step outside the casino when they desperately need a smoke and they tend to have a lot of money on them at that time. Casino managers are afraid that security issues such as robberies can adversely affect the company’s reputation. These guests also tend to be pestered by people asking for smokes or money.
Harrah’s has plans to construct two large outdoor courtyards on its property in order to enable smokers to light up in comfort and whenever they want. The courtyard will feature slot machines in addition to a number of dining and entertainment options so that smokers don’t have to feel cut out of the action on account of their habit. The proposed courtyards will definitely help earn a lot of revenue for the casino since it will keep smokers busy gambling.
Harrah’s will first present the land-use application for the courtyard to the city planning commission so that a public hearing can take place. Once this step is done, the proposal will have to be decided upon by the city council. The company does not anticipate a great deal of noise pollution resulting from the use of the two open courtyards since slot machine users are not exactly gregarious. Furthermore, slot machines themselves can be adjusted to make a lot less noise than normal. The casino is at pain to explain that the proposed courtyards would not disturb the casino’s neighbours or its employees.