Council Votes To Renew Casino’s Alcohol License But Sends Message About Smoking Ban

Stop the smoking or lose your alcohol license. That’s basically what the city council told the owners of one Sioux Falls Casino last week. City councilors were hoping to send a message that violating the statewide smoking ban wouldn’t be tolerated.

In South Dakota, businesses with video lottery are required to have an alcohol license. Also, alcohol and tobacco can’t commingle, But still, businesses were trying to find ways around it.

“There was things that video lottery establishments were doing with these smoking rooms,” said Sioux Falls City Council Member Greg Neitzert.

Neitzert says the rooms would have video lottery machines, a cigarette machine, and ‘No Alcohol’ signs.

Neitzert said, “People would smoke in that room and so they were saying that it was okay because alcohol was in one room and tobacco was in the other room.”

The city council became aware of the problem when a member was tipped off last year.

Neitzert said, “People were actively smoking, it wasn’t just that there was ash trays although there was that too and so that kind of got the ball rolling. The police got involved. They did compliance checks. Essentially they walked in and did stings and they handed out several tickets.”

Despite the fact that smoking isn’t allowed in any public place except in a smoke shop, Neitzert says the Crown Casino on South Minnesota Avenue was one of several that saw smoking violations. So when it came time to renew their alcohol license last week, the council demanded that the owners have a plan in place to stop it.

“We wanted to send a very clear message that you need to follow the rules,” said Neitzert.

An attorney representing the casino assured them of that Tuesday night. The council voted to renew the casino’s license, but Neitzert says they’ll be watching.

Neizert says the attorney representing Crown Gaming Inc. told the council Tuesday night that Crown Casino will require employees to ask patrons who are smoking to leave or call police. He said any employees who violate the rule will be reprimanded.

Neitzert says the state does have the final say but it’s likely the license will be approved by the Department of Revenue.