Black Bear casino goes smoke-free
July 17, 2020
Effective Wednesday, Black Bear Casino Resort is 100-percent smoke-free inside the building. Guests may still smoke outside.
General manager Dan LaPrairie said the Reservation Business Council made the decision to go smoke-free on Tuesday and he implemented the policy within hours.
It was something LaPrairie had been thinking about for a long time before he took the recommendation to the RBC.
"When I first took over I recognized that times were changing when it came to smokers and nonsmokers," he said, noting that they decided early on to make the steakhouse, buffet and deli nonsmoking and got more positive than negative feedback.
When the casino and hotel tower reopened in June - after being closed for nearly three months in response to the coronavirus pandemic - the nonsmoking area had been expanded by about two-thirds, LaPrairie said. Because of its high ceilings and state-of-the-art HVAC system, it was working, but he said observations he made on the gaming floor contributed to the decision to completely ban smoking.
"It was counterproductive to require a mask and allow smoking," he said, pointing out that people have to remove masks to smoke. "Covid isn't going away anytime soon. We've been fortunate in this area, but we have to do our part at Black Bear too. This is such a local casino, we have an obligation to keep everyone safe."
Although there are strong feelings on both sides of the smoking issue, the general manager said he's been encouraged by the positive feedback he's seen on Facebook since they made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
LaPrairie said his goal is to make Black Bear "the safest casino on earth."
"It's a lofty goal but, like Herb Brooks said, that's why we want to pursue it. We can do it," he said, adding that he thinks branding for safety will be as or more important as giant giveaways in this pandemic era.
"We are following all the protocols - screenings, masks, sanitizer and more - to keep Covid out of here," he said. "I know when I go through the screening process every morning when I come in, I feel safe here."
In other Black Bear news, the Seven Fires Steakhouse is now open Thursdays through Sundays and the Sage Deli is open seven days a week. The driving range on the golf course is also open and balls may be purchased at the clubhouse, which is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The golf course itself remains closed.
Masks are required while inside all casino resort properties including the clubhouse, and temperatures are taken by staff at entry checkpoints.