Thursday, July 17, 2008

Casino smoking trials delayed

The three Cripple Creek casino managers ticketed for smoking in mid-June appeared in Teller County Court today. Two of the casinos, the Double Eagle and Bronco Billy's, asked for pre-trial conferences, which were set for late July. The third, the Midnight Rose, represented by manager Donald Rosen, pleaded "not guilty" and will go to court Sept. 11.

For a short time, it looked like there would be some surprise fireworks in Cripple Creek. When Judge Jackson Peters called for Bronco Billy's co-general manager Marc Murphy, he was nowhere to be found. Nor was his attorney. Judge Peters said he would issue a bench warrant for Murphy, although assistant district attorney Nathan Whitney asked the judge to give Murphy until the end of the day to appear.

Turns out, it was just a misunderstanding. Murphy's lawyer had filed the motion asking for a pre-trial hearing late in the day Wednesday and the paperwork hadn't made it to the judge yet.

Eric Rose, general manager of the Colorado Grande Casino, which has remained non-smoking, said he is frustrated by what he sees as delaying tactics, allowing the casinos to continue smoking.

"I'm sure that's their plan," he said. "It could easily be a year, I'd imagine."

Stephanie Steinberg, chairwoman of Smoke-Free Gaming of Colorado, said the smoking casinos need to face up to the facts.

"I wish they would just come to the conclusion that the law is what it is," she said. "They still haven't accepted that the law applies to all casinos."

A fourth casino, the Gold Rush, allowed smoking beginning July 11, was ticketed by Cripple Creek police on July 12, then suddenly stopped smoking on Tuesday. Gold Rush general manager Mike Hirsch said the casino's initial court date was set for Sept. 29.

All four casinos that have allowed smoking assert that they meet the cigar exemption from the statewide smoking ban. Bronco Billy's co-general manager Mike Chaput said it will be the court's decision.

"It's a legal matter now and we have to be silent about it," Chaput said.

No comments: