SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — The American Lung Association is touting a new poll which shows most Illinoisans who gamble would rather do it in a smoke-free environment.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, the group is trying to dispel a connection between the state’s indoor smoking ban and a drop in business and casinos.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports

Researcher Clyde Barrow says the poll results show there is competition that has driven people away from casinos.

“Among the reported casino gamblers, 14 percent of them said that they had played video poker or slot machines at a local club, and those occurrences, we think, have likely cannibalized slot machines at the riverboat casinos,” Barrow said.

Illinois Casino Gaming Association director Tom Swoik sees a big problem with the video poker and slot machines at the “local clubs” Barrow mentioned.

“Those are against the law in Illinois. They’re not supposed to be paying out,” Swoik said. “If those people are doing that, they’re breaking the law.”

Swoik says the smoking ban is to blame for about 75 percent of the revenue losses at casinos in 2008, when the ban started.

“Since then, we have not made up that, and we have lost additional funds because of the economy,” Swoik said.

State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) does not agree with Swoik’s claims.

“I just want to quote a great philosopher, James Carville – ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’” Link said.

The Illinois House of Representatives have already approved a bill that would amend the smoking ban to exempt Illinois riverboats if their closest neighboring state does not ban smoking at casinos.

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