NY Bar Owners Unplug Lottery to Protest Smoking Ban



Still steamed over a looming smoking ban, some New York bar and restaurant owners hit the state where it hurts -- in the pocketbook.
They unplugged the lottery machines in their establishments.

This week's coordinated cutting off of Quick Draw Lottery machines is costing the state $1 million in lost revenues, according to Scott Wexler, head of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association which represents more than 3,000 bars and eateries across the state.

Wexler predicted that about 10 percent of bar and restaurant owners will ultimately be forced to close because of lost business due to the anti-smoking law, which is considered one of the most restrictive in the nation.

State lottery officials, however, countered that only $49,233 has been lost in the boycott, according to spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.

Lottery machines were also turned off in protest by many restaurant and bar owners in May when the statewide law was passed. Game sales dropped by 18 percent.

The Quick Draw lottery game is a popular bar and restaurant game in which numbers are played and picked every 10 minutes.

The game brings in $475 million a year in revenues for the state Lottery Division, said Hapeman, adding this week's protest was losing momentum and that less than 100 machines were now off-line.

In a last-ditch lobbying effort, restaurant and tavern owners are trying to convince state lawmakers to allow smoking in their establishments if separate rooms are provided.

New York City banned smoking in all restaurants and bars on March 30.