After talking about the street “performers” on the Strip, I figured I should discuss something totally noncontroversial in this week’s Las Vegas Business Press. So I settled on an article on the recent rollback of the gaming tavern smoking ban:
Back in November 2006, a majority of voters approved the Nevada Indoor Clean Air Act, which banned smoking in restaurants, child care facilities, stores and many other public places while exempting casino floors and bars that don’t serve hot food. Recently, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 571, which overturned key portions of that act and will allow smokers to light up again in taverns with food service.
Since I don’t own a tavern and generally speaking don’t patronize them, I’m not too fired up about this issue. It does, however, shed some light on the byzantine legislative process here in Nevada.
If I were looking to start or move a business here, I might be concerned about how capricious a lot of these legislative changes seem. It appears that the majority of the tavern owners want to allow smoking, so I’m sure they’re happy they’ve got it, but I feel bad for any tavern owners who just invested a lot of money in renovating facilities so they could offer food and smoking at their bar. It seems like the regulatory requirements surrounding gaming are a constantly-moving target around here.
On one hand, I acknowledge that regulations will change to meet changing circumstances. On the other, if you really want to encourage investment, you’ve got to create some stability.
If the economy was still firing on all cylinders this wouldn’t be an issue, and frankly I don’t think it’s going to do much to move the needle in the end, either. There’s just way less money to go around in the local economy, smoking or not.