Saturday, April 20, 2024

St. Tammany Parish to decide on new casino in November

by Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Voters in a south Louisiana parish will decide Nov. 13 whether they want to clear the way for a $325 million casino development.

The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reports that Pacific Peninsula Entertainment wants to build the casino just outside of Slidell on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish. The casino would be at the foot of the Interstate 10 twin-span bridges over the lake that connect the Slidell area to New Orleans.

The St. Tammany Parish Council voted 8-6 to put the measure on the November ballot. The vote came after seven hours of sometimes heated debate Wednesday.

Parish voters will essentially be asked if they want to undo their 1996 vote to ban casino gambling.

Pacific Peninsula Entertainment, also known as P2E, wants to move its riverboat license from Bossier City, where it operated the now-shuttered DiamondJacks casino. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board must also OK moving the license.

Supporters say a casino would provide much-needed tax revenue and jobs. They add that a local casino, will help keep some St. Tammany Parish and Louisiana gambling money from heading to the Mississippi Coast.

But opponents contend the casino industry often over-promises, and brings with it problems, including crime and traffic, that outweigh the benefits.

Ministers at Wednesday’s meeting said the casino would foster problem gambling that can disrupt families. Others feared reduced property values in the area near the casino.

Some business owners asked for a delay for a study on the possible effects on their businesses.

Supporters of the casino referendum included Slidell home owner Ronald Reeves, who said he thinks the casino would be good for the tax base and bring money to complete needed public works projects.

Parking lots at Mississippi casinos are filled with vehicles bearing Louisiana license plates “as far as you can see,” Reeves said.

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