Appeals Court Rules Indy Smoking Ban Unconstitutional

Jun 25, 2015

Indianapolis and Hoosier Park, the company that owns Winner's Circle, have 30 days to decide whether to appeal to the full Court of Appeals or ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case.
Credit Brandon Van Keuren /

The state Court of Appeals says part of Indianapolis‘s smoking ban is unconstitutional. A unanimous three-judge panel ruled the city could not ban smoking at bars and restaurants and at the same time exempt the Winner‘s Circle off-track betting facility, which has a bar and restaurant.

The reasoning was virtually the same as last year‘s ruling from the state Supreme Court that struck down Evansville’s smoking ban, since its only exemption was for the city‘s riverboat casino.

Mark Small, the attorney for two bars challenging the city’s smoking ban, says there’s no inherent quality of gambling that requires smoking.

"I mean, there’s only one off-track betting facility in this county and that’s the only party that could benefit from that one exemption," Small says.

While the ruling does not allow the Thirsty Turtle, the Whistle Stop Inn and other petitioning bars to immediately allow smoking, the case will return to a trial court where Small says they could ask for a judgment in their favor.