A Native American casino in northwest Iowa that’s owned and run by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is now offering a “non-smoking” gaming room.
Travis Morgan is a spokesman for the WinnaVegas Casino in the town of Sloan: “So many people out there love to gamble and hate cigarette smoke.”
An Iowa law that went into effect in 2008 bans smoking in public places, but Iowa’s casino industry got an exemption that has allowed smoking to continue on the gaming floors.
Officials with state-licensed casinos say banning smoking would put them at a competitive disadvantage and they have opposed efforts in the legislature to start enforcing the smoking ban inside the casinos.
The Native American casino is not state licensed and is free to create a smoke-free environment.
“We’ve given WinnaVegas a big room — 70 slot machines — where you can come, gamble and not have to worry about cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke, nothing,” Morgan says. “It’s just an option that you have now at WinnaVegas that we hope is going to bring a core group of people to us because we’re the only ones that have something like this.”
Morgan says many customers consider the smoky casino floors to be a “downside” to their gambling experience. “We’ve just eliminated that problem,” Morgan says.
The casino is about 20 miles south of Sioux City and just across the Missouri River from Nebraska. Also, The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska operates the Blackbird Bend Casino in Onawa, Iowa.
By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City