Jan 19, 2014 7:00 PM by Tara Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
GREAT FALLS - Great Falls casino smoking rooms are involved in a new lawsuit, this time over whether or not they meet state requirements for gambling spaces.
In November, District Court Judge Greg Pinski ruled that smoking rooms do not violate the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act.
Now Great Falls casino owners say the Montana Department of Justice's Gambling Control Division demanded they remove their gambling machines from the rooms, even after previously approving them.
According to court documents, for the past two years the Gambling Control Division approved the smoking rooms, saying they were in compliance with the rules and regulations of the gambling laws.
They noted three of the premises had "installed walls that extended floor to ceiling, a unique address and a public outdoor entrance not shared with another licensed operator..." For the other two casino smoking rooms, they stated the gaming machines were in compliance with the law.
Then, after another inspection in December, the DOJ indicated the gambling machines did not comply with the rules even though the smoking rooms had not changed.
In the court documents, casino owners state the DOJ never provided them with objective criteria to determine whether their conduct was legal or illegal.
This week Pinski granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the DOJ from shutting down the smoking rooms.
Gregg Smith, an attorney who represents the casinos, said that he and the DOJ came to an agreement that will allow gambling in the rooms to continue until Pinski issues a judgment.
The casinos listed in the lawsuit include Golds Casino, The Palace, Player's Casino, and The Do Bar; Cut Bank Palace in Cut Bank is also involved.