The state of Louisiana is going through a riveting period when it comes to its gambling field and this could be easily seen by the latest happenings revolving around its riverboat casino venues. This Wednesday saw major development as the state lawmakers gave their nod to the relocation of riverboat casinos to the shore where they could build anew their venues and offer more gaming options.
Over the span of the past several months since the beginning of this year the lawmakers of Louisiana have been making attempts to bring a breath of fresh air to the gaming field. One of the ways in which this could be achieved is by giving casino operators the chance to make their way onshore and relocate their riverboat operation to the nearby land. According to the position expressed by the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force’s Chairman Ronnie Jones, local legislators should allow riverboats to offer land-based slot machines up to 1,200 feet from the shore.
According to the gaming task force’s head, such a permission would bring additional revenue to the state and would make Louisiana gambling market more competitive to the Mississippi casino industry. With this comparison in mind, a bill was introduced, aiming to facilitate the process. Back in April the state Senate voted it and the legislation managed to pass with 22-14. According to it the 15 riverboat casinos which are currently in operation will receive the permission to relocate their operation to the land and potentially improve their gaming offerings.
Riverboats Evolve to Bring More
Up to this point, the licenses available across the state of Louisiana were distributed into four main markets, including Baton Rouge, Shreveport/Bossier City, New Orleans, and Lake Charles. For the time being, the local gambling industry contributes the fourth-largest stake on Louisiana’s budget, with between $3 and $4 billion generated in tax revenue on an annual basis.
The main concern for the lawmakers was that there is a gaping hole in the state budget, which reaches $1 billion and measures should be taken in order to fill it. This week the voting of the bill saw a 54-41 House vote and the next step after this approval is for Gov. John Bel Edwards to ink the proposed changes into the new law which will change Louisiana’s gambling field.
The new venues will be given the chance to operate up to 2,635 gambling machines, rather than to the current gambling premises limit of 30,000 square feet. As with every attempt of bringing any change, there is also the people opposing it, claiming that this move is going to steer the gambling field away from what the voters initially wanted it to be.
However, during the voting process this week any attempts for slowing down the progress of the proposed bill were minimized in order to make things more efficient. One of the ways in which this was achieved was that the lower chamber cut any amendments which need the green light of the community.