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Michigan's Smoking Ban Took Effect

A massive expansion of Keno in Jackson County and across the state last year couldn’t overcome the state’s smoking cigarettes ban.

Last year the number of locations in the county where people could buy tickets for the popular state lottery game went from 65 to 201.

Nevertheless, ticket sales in the county fell for the first time since the game’s inception in 2003, according to records from the state lottery obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“We can definitely attribute that to the smoking cigarettes ban,” said Andi Brancato, director of public relations for the Michigan state lottery. “Once that went into effect, the sales dropped.”

The losses in the county are reflected statewide, where Keno sales fell by about $22 million, down to $371 million.

The loss of revenue from Keno and other lottery games hurts school funding.

Contributions to the state’s school aid fund declined by 3.2 percent last year. The lottery disbursed $701 million to the school aid fund in 2010, down $23 million from 2009. Revenue from the lottery totals about 6 percent of the state’s school aid fund.

Since the smoking cigarettes ban took effect May 1, six of the 10 biggest Club Keno locations in Jackson County saw a loss in ticket sales. Some of the losses were a few thousand dollars.

At the Ground Round Grill & Bar, 1051 Boardman Road, the loss was much more dramatic. It saw ticket sales plummet by $141,000 in 2010 — a 26 percent decline.

Establishments receive a 6 percent commission of their ticket sales and a 2 percent commission on prizes won.

“Our sales dropped off right away,” general manager Dennis Slaby said.

He said the ban has caused the length of stay of his customers to decrease. Where people used to stay for two or three hours and play Keno while they smoked and drank, now they stay for one or two drinks and go home.

“The Club Keno is more entertainment,” he said, “And having to get up and go outside to smoke cigarettes is a disruption to their entertainment.”

Andy Deloney vice president of public affairs for the Michigan Restaurant Association, said since the smoking cigarettes ban has been in effect, about two-thirds of the 4,500 restaurant locations they represent in the state said the smoking cigarettes ban affected their business. And the overwhelming majority said it had been a negative effect.

“It wasn’t surprising to us,” he said. “The Club Keno impact certainly seems to support that data.”

Deloney said his members are reporting the typical length of stay was down along with sales.

Slaby said at the Ground Round, the decrease in length of stay has actually helped business on the weekends.

“The tables turn over quicker,” he said.

He said they have adjusted to the new way of life under the smoking cigarettes ban.

“I don’t think we’d want to go back now,” he said. “It’s nice for our employees.”

Tomorrow, we will look at efforts the state lottery has taken to help stave off declining revenues, including being able to watch the Keno game screen from the comfort of your own home.




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