The expected tax revenue and new job openings that a proposed casino resort worth $250 million is set to bring to St. Tammany Parish have been found attractive by project supporters, but the distribution of the 5% portion of net gaming revenue that would be brought to local governments by the casino has remained unclear.
However, the St. Tammany Parish Development District’s Board approved an agreement a few days ago to determine who will get what from the expected amount of proceeds that Pacific Peninsula Entertainment will bring to the place. According to the California-based developer, the amount will vary between $7.5 million and $9 million on an annual basis.
Governments across the parish have been promised a chunk of the pie. Other entities, such as the St. Tammany Parish Development District, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the parish’s Levee Drainage and Conservation District, as well as some non-profit organizations, are also set to receive part of the profits.
Chris Masingill, the lead negotiator of the agreement, who is also the CEO of the parish’s economic development agency, has described the 5% share of net gaming revenue as the biggest portion that a casino venue has ever agreed to contribute to the state of Louisiana, apart fro the 26% stake that local casinos are obliged to pay the state. According to Mr. Masingill, the agreement has “raised the bar” for the rest of the casinos in the state.
Local Residents to Vote on Casino Gambling in November If Parish Council Push the Issue Further
What remains to be seen, is whether the casino developers and their lobbyists will be able to persuade St. Tammany’s voters to give their approval to casino gambling in case the St. Tammany Parish Council decides to put the issue on the November 13th ballot.
Under the recently announced agreement, the St. Tammany Parish government will get the largest portion of the money, a total of 37.5%, which could vary in size from $2.8 million to $3.4 million on an annual basis. According to the Parish Council Chair, the money would not be enough to balance the budget but it is still additional revenue for the area.
Under the agreement, the parish is required to spend 12.5% of its share on projects in what is called the “St. Tammany Parish Gaming and Entertainment Project Zone”, which is an unincorporated region around Slidell. Slidell, on the other hand, is set to receive 15% of the local money, under the agreement.
The casino resort project has its opponents, too, saying that the is not fair for the entire parish to have a vote on a project that is set to be established in Slidell but will not have an adverse impact on people who live on the west side of the parish. That argument has been rejected, as the law is absolute and requires all residents on the parish to vote on such a proposal.