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Bingo Halls in North Dakota Remain Smoke-Free

On February 5, 2007, the state house decided that a smoking ban ordinance in effect for public buildings located in North Dakota should still apply to the state's bingo halls, although it continues to severely affect the bingo halls' profits almost 2 years after the ban was first enforced.

Representatives Dwight Wrangham, a Republican from Bismarck and Randy Boehning, a Republican from Fargo, authored a bill which will permit smoking at bingo halls in North Dakota. This bill includes a rule stating that no one under the age of 18 will be allowed to enter the establishment.

Most bingo halls in North Dakota are handled by charities. They have reported a large drop in the profits of the bingo halls across North Dakota after the smoking ordinance took effect on August 1, 2005. In addition, many bingo halls have closed down already. The Bingo Barn in Williston, for example, had been operating for almost 2 decades, but it was closed last December 2006.

During a debate at the state house on February 2, 2007, Boehning stated that they were told that the smoking ban would not hurt businesses in the area. However, when they banned smoking in many public areas it ultimately did a lot of damage to North Dakota businesses.

The representatives voted 47-42 last Friday, February 2nd, to disapprove the legislation. Rep. Kari Conrad, a Democrat from Minot, commented that she heard some comments from the non-smoking players of the game of bingo, who had previously avoided playing in the bingo halls before the smoking ban. Conrad asserted that they should stick with their original decision because secondhand smoke is a vital issue. Meanwhile, Rep. Elwood Thorpe, another Democrat from Minot, said that the supporters of the bill, House Bill 1353(HB1353), commented on its positive effects on North Dakota's state coffers.


Monday, March 19, 2007
Danny Hudson

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