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Minnesota porn ban to spank some hotels, except when too expensive

If a porn ban in Minnesota's Winona County passes, hotels will have to operate under a "clean hotel" policy. County employees wouldn't be able to stay at properties that have adult fare on the menu, though there are some specific exceptions to this rule. Ostensibly, this measure is intended to lower incidents of sexual and domestic violence, which the county says has a link to porn according to some studies (though there are indicators the other way, too).

According to a Winona Daily News:

"In and of itself, this policy is not a cure-all," the document reads, "but it is an important effort to help prevent a social disease and its related costs to the public."

Winona County officials believe that keeping porn out of hotels will alleviate the $221 million spent on issues related to sexual violence (in 2006). They feel that this form of prevention will lead to lower law enforcement costs. Winona Daily News continues:

"It is logical to assume that prevention of certain criminal activities would reduce the costs of providing these services," the issue paper states. "Prevention would also prevent the much greater social cost to the community."

In an effort to keep county workers from viewing adult entertainment – and banning local hotels from selling it in order to get county business, the state could be doing far more harm than good. The question staring me in the face is a simple and important one: does the county bring hotels more business than porn?



For county workers, hotel stays entail local travel, so the business opportunity can't be terribly high. The Winona Daily News notes that "law enforcement officials and other employees often require they spend the night in a hotel."

Meanwhile, in-room adult entertainment is good for some big cash. The Family Research Council and a dozen other anti-porn organizations estimate that this form of entertainment is good for 60 percent to 80 percent of in-room entertainment revenue (though this is a dated estimate). Of course, the opponents of the freedom to view adult entertainment have had a tendency to pump up market size and other business-related numbers (as I found during four years of covering the business side of the adult entertainment industry) in order to emphasize its reach and influence. So, it makes sense to take a look at another source.

J.W. Marriott, whose background makes him no fan of adult content, is pretty clear on the importance of steamy televisions to his business. He wrote to the American Decency Association:
"If we were to eliminate R and non-rated offerings, the systems would not be economic [sic]. We believe it is more practical to have a system available through a wider variety and to allow our guests to make their own selections."

Of course, the choice between county cash and porn cash may not be necessary. Given the nature of the hotel market in the state and the existing porn options, the measure may be close to irrelevant. Already, more than 480 "clean hotels" exist in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. And, the rule only applies if a property is the "host site" for an event that the county employee is attending. Also, money does talk: if staying in porn-free digs would cost at least 15 percent more than staying at a porn-friendly establishment, the cost of "morality" isn't worth it.

[Via USA Today, photo by Steve Zak Photography]

Filed under: Business, North America, United States, Hotels and Accommodations, News

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