SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – State lawmakers are again considering an exemption to the Smoke-Free Illinois Act for casinos.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Melissa Hahn reports, casinos are begging for an exemption from the law. They say the nearly 3-year-old statewide ban is costing them tons of money.

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A bill to exempt casinos from the ban is now before the Illinois House of Representatives. The bill, HB 1846, has already passed a House committee.

If approved, the law would not apply to all casinos. It says casinos would be exempt from the ban only if smoking is not banned in the nearest neighboring state.

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Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky do not have any statewide smoking restrictions, but Wisconsin and Iowa have comprehensive indoor smoking bans as in Illinois.

Also, the bill says if smoking bans are passed in the neighboring states that do not already have them, the exemption for casinos will end.

Regardless, Thom Mannard, director of public policy and government relations for the American Cancer Society’s Illinois division, is asking lawmakers to say no to the bill.

“We think it’s the absolutely wrong way to go,” Mannard said. “For us, the main issue is the public health of those that work in casinos, but also those patrons who come to Illinois casinos because they are smoke free.”

Mannard hopes since the Smoke-Free Illinois Act passed with 73 votes in the House in 2007, that most of those lawmakers remain in office and can push back the casinos.

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State Reps. Daniel J. Burke (D-Chicago), Maria Antonia Berrios (D-Chicago), Patrick J. Verschoore (D-Rock Island), Daniel V. Beiser (D-Alton), and Dan Reitz (D-Sparta) are co-sponsors of the bill.