Office of Technical and Information Services
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20004-1111
RE: Response to Request for Comments
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Large Passenger Vessels
Docket No. 2004-1
Dear Sir or Madam:
The Casino Association of Louisiana herewith submits comments in response to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board’s (“Access Board”) Notice of Availability of Draft Guidelines regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to large passenger vessels, 69 Fed. Reg. 69243 (Nov. 26, 2004). Our comments are on behalf of our member companies identified at the end of this letter. We appreciate this opportunity to comment on the draft guidelines and support the goals of the ADA to provide an accessible and equal gaming experience for our patrons.
The Casino Association of Louisiana is the industry trade association for the riverboat casinos in Louisiana. As such, we have thoroughly reviewed and fully support the public comments to the draft guidelines recently submitted by the American Gaming Association.
All fifteen riverboat casino vessels located throughout Louisiana remain dockside and may now be considered “continuously moored” with each vessel holding a Certificate of Inspection (“COI”) issued by the United States Coast Guard. This certification is required by state laws in order to hold a state issued gaming license. Accordingly any factors which may compromise or conflict with COI requirements have the potential to negatively impact each vessel’s gaming license, the companies’ revenue and ultimately the employment status of our 16,000 direct employees. We raise this point in the hopes that any areas of distinction between present COI requirements and the Access Board’s draft guidelines are reasonably resolved in the final draft of the accessibility guidelines.
Additionally we specifically support the points raised in the comments submitted by the American Gaming Association relative to the casino gaming floor constituting an “assembly area”. In addition to fully accessible aisles through certain areas on the gaming floor, gaming operators within the state already provide ADA-compliant access to certain gaming table and gaming devices on board the vessels. Unlike certain other jurisdictions, gaming vessels in Louisiana are statutorily limited to 30,000 square feet of gaming space and with only a few narrow exceptions, aisle space in excess of that mandated for emergency egress is counted against this gaming space. Consequently, any treatment of the gaming floor space as other than an “assembly area” with the attached requirement to provide the designated clear width for all aisles would necessitate the removal of a considerable number of gaming positions. This would present a significant and negative impact to not only the gaming licensee’s revenue, but would result in an adjustment downward of the number of employees required to service the reduced number of gaming positions.
While we in general support the Access Board’s determination as to the types of vessels included in the Regulatory Assessment Plan, the exclusion of gaming vessels based on the expectation that any issues affecting gaming vessels would be present in other case study vessels may overlook an important aspect of gaming vessels. While some passenger cruise ships provide a small degree of gaming as a secondary amenity, typically comprising less than 5% of their passenger accessible areas, the purpose of boarding a cruise ship is traditionally the travel, dinning and sightseeing experience provided by these vessels. The primary purpose of boarding a gaming vessel, especially those that are dockside, is to enjoy a gaming experience and therefore the entire focus of the enterprise is geared toward that end. Consequently we encourage the Access Board to be mindful of the different purposes of each type of vessel.
Wade D. Duty
Casino Association of Louisiana
P.O. Box 3801
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70821
Penn National Gaming
Isle of Capri Casinos