Bingo Hall Smoking

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Bingo players can breathe a smoke-filled sigh of relief as the State Department of Health says the no smoking amendment does not apply to bingo halls.

Smokers at Emerald Coast Bingo on Panama City Beach are happy to see the ashtrays out on the tables again. Bingo-ers can now light up thanks to the State Department of Health. It says the Legislature did not mean to include bingo halls in those public places where smokers have to snuff out.

The no smoking amendment approved by state voters in 2002 says every public place that serves food as a certain percentage of its profits had to cut out smoking by last July. Bingo halls caught some flack for not complying, but now the state says it's not pursuing any of those complaints.

"I'm one of the people that don't smoke so I understand, but I've really invested having a non-smoking section with extra ventilation to clear the smoke out faster from the main room just in the last three weeks.”

Buckland spent more than $20,000 to renovate Emerald Coast Bingo to add a non-smoking area with separate ventilation. He says allowing smoking in bingo halls means his investment was worth it.

The State Department of Health says if the Legislature specifically names bingo halls in the law then they will enforce complaints.