Smoking Ban Hits Windsor Bingo Halls Hard

Nearly a month after the fateful May 31 implementation of the law in Canada that prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces and public places, which includes casino and bingo halls, where many residents earn their way by working and playing in Windsor's bingo halls.

Operators of said bingo halls in Windsor are voicing their complaints that many of their regular patrons, especially those from Michigan are not travelling to Windsor anymore and just staying home to play bingo instead because most of them, if not all, are smokers who are affected by the implementation of the smoking ban.

Because of the ban, businesses in the area have been hit hard and revenues dropped, the majority of the owners of the bingo halls are considering lay-offs in their workforce and others might close for good because of the drastic effect according to reports published in the Detroit News.

Some owners are still trying to stay afloat and stay open. Candice Lagace, who works at the Paradise Bingo Hall as a bookkeeper said that the establishments as much as possible do not want to lay-off employees but if this keeps up, they might be force to do the inevitable. For now, to compensate for the ongoing crisis, they cut-off the number of work hours almost in half.

When the smoking ban in Ontario took effect on May 31, bingo hall owners had speculated that this move would put a significant risk on the financial health of their businesses. John Fairley, Vice President for Marketing(CBC Bingo group) said that they suffered a 5% drop already in their business transactions since the implementation and even a higher 15% drop in some of their facilities.

There are yet no exact numbers of the drop in customers coming from Michigan that are frequenting the bingo halls in Ontario but owners speculated that it is in significant levels already if their businesses are already feeling the absence and lacked of customers.

John Fairley said that their company has not lay-off people yet but they will review the situation at the end of the month to see if conditions improved or not.

The industry of bingo in the province of Windsor supports about 400 employees in roughly seven parlours and before the crisis happened, is a $28 million dollars a year industry in Windsor. Half of the customers, predictably are Americans because the province is just near the US-Canadian Border.

The Windsor casino is also feeling the effect of the ban now because most of its customers are from Michigan where few cross the border anymore to play.

It is too early to analyze the impact of fewer customers in their bingo halls said Teresa Roncon, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation spokeswoman.

Holly Ward, a Casino windsor spokeswoman said that they will review the situation in a few weeks but as of now, they would not lay-off employees.


Sunday, July 23, 2006
Karen Jacobs

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