Illinois Casino Tax Revenues Down $200 Million, Thanks to Statewide Smoking Ban

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What could you do with $200 million in tax revenues? If you were the state of Illinois, you might create 5,000 jobs, each paying $40,000 per year. That won't happen, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, because of tax losses stemming from lower casino revenues directly related to the statewide smoking ban enacted last year.

What could you do with $200 million in tax revenues? If you were the state of Illinois, you might create 5,000 jobs, each paying $40,000 per year. That won't happen, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, because of tax losses stemming from lower casino revenues directly related to the statewide smoking ban enacted last year.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis announced recently that a study by two of its economists proved that the statewide smoking ban enacted in January, 2008 by the state of Illinois was the primary reason that its nine casinos lost $400 million in revenues last year. The 38-page study was reported in the July issue of The Regional Economist and showed that the smoking ban was chiefly responsible for a 22 percent decline in revenues compared to recent years and to the performance of casinos in nearby states.

"And that's just the tip of the iceberg," said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR. "Businesses everywhere are suffering from the economic downturn while those in Illinois have the added impact of this contemptuous legislated smoking ban. For example, in addition to lower state income, local communities also lost over $12 million in casino tax revenues."

McCalla criticized anti-smoking organizations for dismissing out of hand the economic impact of legislated smoking bans.

"We have the economists at the Federal Reserve Bank to thank for proving once and for all that legislated smoking bans are bad for the economy. In times like these - let alone ever - do we really need legislated smoking bans? Absolutely not! Legislators should be doing everything they can to create jobs, not destroy them," he claimed.

IPCPR members are mainly small business owners of mom-and-pop cigar stores and manufacturers and distributors of premium, hand-made cigars, pipes and related accoutrements. There are more than 2,000 members worldwide with 64 of them in the state of Illinois.

"Casinos aren't the only businesses to suffer with legislated smoking bans. And when business goes down, employees are eliminated or the businesses close. That means loss of jobs and loss of tax revenues. Nobody wins.

"We're not against individual business owners declaring no smoking on their premises. It's their right to do so. It's local, state and federal governments that should not interfere with the rights of individuals," McCalla said.

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