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North Dakota State House Decides to Keep Bingo Halls Smoke-Free

The North Dakota State House has decided to keep the smoking ban in bingo halls in place, despite the fact that businesses have plummeted in the past 2 years, since the ban has been in effect.

Representatives Dwight Wrangham, R-Bismarck, and Randy Boehning, R-Fargo, sponsored a bill that aims to allow smoking in bingo parlors that will refuse to let minors play bingo. Currently, youngsters are allowed inside North Dakota’s bingo halls.

The bingo halls in North Dakota are noted for being run by charities, and they have reported a dramatic fall in revenues after the smoking ban was introduced in the state. An example of those who took the windfall is The Bingo Barn which has been in business for 20 years and closed last December.

"We were told in the last session that smoking, if we ban it, it's not going to hurt business," Boehning said during a House debate. "But this is a good example of what we did. We banned smoking in a lot of places, and it did hurt business."

The appeal to overturn the legislation was defeated in the House 47-42. Representative Kari Conrad, D-Minot, stated that with the ban, nonsmoking players who used to avoid going to the bingo halls are now frequenting the establishments.

Conrad added, "I think it's taken us time to adjust, but I think we should stick to our guns and say no". "Secondhand smoke is a very, very big issue, and if this is one way to help people to stop smoking, I think we should do that."


Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Donna Regan

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