An EU wide smoking ban has been approved a few months earlier by Spanish government. The ban forbids smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants where online poker players gather to spend an hour or two improving their game at online poker sites in Spain. Smoking near sensitive areas such as schools and hospitals is punished with an enormous fine.
Smoking is currently allowed in thirty percent of hotel rooms, although the ban contains explicit words on no-smoking in private hotel rooms. This is precisely the loophole that the casino industry was looking for, to permit smoking in private, ventilated rooms similar to those found inside airports throughout the world.
Various businesses, besides casinos, are thinking of introducing designated smoking areas and have applied for the appropriate license. No industry wants the ban to be lifted more than the casino industry in Spain. In the past few months, many appeals by the casinos were thrown out by the gambling industry regulators, disappointing both players and industry operators throughout the country. However there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it seems that smoking designated areas will be permitted by mid-summer. The casino industry presented an ultimatum that rattled both politicians and casino regulators. The casinos proposed that either smoking be permitted in designated areas, or each casino will restructure itself as a private members club, which are not considered public areas.
Casinos operate under full compliance with Spanish gambling laws, pay taxes and licensing fees, and feel that a special exception should be made for all gambling establishments. In a series of private meetings between legislators, casino insiders and regulators, the specifics are being ironed out to permit smoking in certain areas of the casino. Online gambling industry on the other hand is lobbying against any exceptions for the casino industry, expecting more players will gamble at online casinos because of the ban.