Continued from Page 1
“The same argument applies to someone who has to use the restroom,” she said. “They're not afforded the ability to urinate on themselves at the slot machine.”
As for health issues, Schippers and other industry officials acknowledge them but say measures such as high ceilings and strong ventilation systems address them. Yet in May, a federal report concluded that 147 dealers at three Las Vegas casinos were exposed to chemicals in secondhand smoke during their shifts and recommended a smoking ban.
Van Petten said he wants to leave those issues to state legislators and city and county governing boards. He acknowledges the lottery could try to impose a ban through contracts with casino operators but,
“We don't legislate.” Steinberg contends the ADA — designed to prevent discrimination and guarantee access to activities and services — compels the lottery to ban smoking in the new casinos. Amendments taking effect this year clarified the definition of disability to include substantial problems with major bodily functions.
“There is an ADA enforcement action that should not be ignored,” she said.
During the 1990s, a wheelchair user filed a federal ADA lawsuit against the lottery, saying too many of the retail outlets selling tickets were inaccessible. The lottery prevailed but was required to pay the man's legal fees and now has a program to inspect retailers.
Van Petten views the lottery's relationship with casino managers as being like the ones it has with the retailers selling its tickets.
He's confident it will meet ADA requirements if casinos have good ventilation systems or establish smoke-free zones.
Fadale, the ADA coordinator, said with private businesses, the emphasis under the federal law is making sure their premises are accessible. He said the state has a duty to see that its services, activities and programs can be used by people with disabilities.
So far, he noted, U.S. Justice Department regulations accompanying the ADA suggest a smoking ban isn't mandated. But Fadale said the state — and the casinos — could face other requirements.
“This is a work in progress,” he said. “However it gets hammered or hashed out, we'll be compliant with those obligations.”