Palace Casino Resort goes smoke free

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's unusual for a casino to ever shut its doors, unless there's a hurricane threat. But the Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi did just that Tuesday to complete a $53 million expansion and renovation.

When the resort reopens in two weeks, there will also be one more notable change. It will be the first South Mississippi casino to be smoke-free.

"We've done a great deal of research over the past 12 months. What we've found out is that eight out of 10 of our guests actually don't smoke. And we believe that with a new facility coming online and the new impact that smoke has on a new facility, that this was the time to do it," said Palace Casino Resort General Manager Keith Crosby.

In order to make new games, dining choices and other amenities more enjoyable for everyone, the smoking ban will include the gaming area, restaurants and even the hotel.

"We looked at it two ways: The impact on our guests, the impact on our associates, and also the physical plant. And we thought that all three suggested that we take this action. And, you know, being a leader comes with a little risk, but we're willing to take it."

From a smoker's standpoint, the change will take some getting used to, but there will be a new feature in place especially for them.

"There's going to be a great smoking lounge," said John Evans with the Palace. "The furniture is great. There's going to be big screen TVs and everything, so it's going to be great."

The smoking room will feature four big screen televisions, a comfortable lounge area, plus both air conditioning and heating units.

Casino officials want to make it clear that this change doesn't mean guests can't smoke at all. It just places limitations on where they can smoke.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.