Local Group Hopes To Make Harrah’s Hoosier Park Smoke-Free

Posted on March 30, 2022 - Last Updated on April 4, 2022

A group in Madison county is hoping to turn Harrah’s Hoosier Park into a smoke-free casino.

Concerns about employee safety are driving the move for the Breathe Easy Madison County Coalition.

Smoke-free Anderson Casino?

Right now, the Hoosier State has a pair of smoke-free casinos for gamblers. Both Four Winds Casino and French Lick Casino are 100% smoke-free.

Indiana casinos were forced to shut down in early 2020 thanks to the pandemic. When they reopened, both Four Winds and French Lick took the opportunity to change their smoking policies.

Now, the Breathe Easy Madison County Coalition is hoping to add Hoosier Park to that list. Community members, public health officials and local activists make up the majority of the group’s numbers.

Karesa Knight-Wilkerson, the founder of the group, is hoping to find support within the Anderson City Council.

The Madison County Board of Health recommended a complete ban on smoking within the county back in 2020, but those efforts fell short due to a lack of support from county commissioners.

In a perfect world, Knight-Wilkerson’s group would love a smoking ban that covers all of Madison County. However, she feels that a ban for just the city of Anderson is a more realistic option for now.

“We would love to do county (wide), but right now, county (wide) is not looking like it would be feasible,” Knight-Wilkerson said.

Caesars generally allows smoking

Caesars Entertainment owns and operates Harrah’s Hoosier Park.

As one of the largest gaming operators in the world, Caesars runs all sorts of casinos around the US. The vast majority of those buildings allow smoking.

Caesars Southern Indiana isn’t a smoke-free casino, but the building does offer a non-smoking section of its floor for gamblers looking to limit secondhand exposure. The company doesn’t own that property anymore, but Caesars is still running the day-to-day operations there.

Caesars owns a trio of casinos in Indiana. Hoosier Park, Horseshoe Hammond and Horseshoe Indianapolis all allow smoking.

In other words, any sort of smoking change at Hoosier Park would likely have to come from a city-wide ordinance rather than an internal company switch from Caesars.

There isn’t any real traction for the change yet, but the push for a smoke-free gaming world is picking up steam nationwide. So much so that even Terre Haute’s new casino will be smoke-free.

Queen of Terre Haute will be smoke-free

Terre Haute’s new casino will be one of Indiana’s few smoke-free gaming spots once it opens.

Queen of Terre Haute won’t open its doors until next year, but a smoke-free environment could end up being a draw for the central Indiana hot spot.

Hard Rock originally announced that the building would be smoke-free back in 2020. Churchill Downs is running the show now instead, but the smoking ban isn’t going anywhere.

That’s thanks to Vigo County’s clean indoor air ordinance, which will make Queen of Terre Haute one of the few smoke-free casinos in the state.

According to the CDC, over 75% of regular casino goers prefer smoke-free environments, so it’s no surprise that smoking bans are becoming more commonplace in the gambling world.

Hoosier Park might not end up making the switch to smoke-free, but a growing push for clean air in Indiana reflects the nationwide trend. Similar changes could eventually come into play for more local casinos in the future.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

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