Following a lengthy public debate, St. Tammany Parish council voted 8 to 6 to include the proposed Slidell-area casino on the ballot scheduled for November 13th. The approval has been considered a significant step forward for the controversial casino project.
The measure was backed by Councilmembers Maureen O’Brien, Cheryl Tanner, Mike Lorino, Steve Stefancik, Rykert Toledano, Marty Dean, Jimmie Davis and Martha Cazaubon. The ones who voted against it were David Fitzgerald, Jerry Binder, Mike Smith, Chris Canulette, Jake Airey and T.J. Smith.
As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, Pacific Peninsula Entertainment (P2E) is willing to establish a $325-million casino resort in the Slidell area. However, back in 1996 gambling was outlawed by local voters, so they need to first undo that before a casino is permitted to be established in the County.
The developers from Pacific Peninsula Entertainment revealed their plans to the public a few months ago and since then, there has been an ongoing controversy whether the casino vote would be included in the November referendum or not, with the discussions starting with a piece of legislation filed in the state Legislature seeking to allow such a ballot to take place.
One of the main hurdles on the way of the casino developer before it is allowed to transfer its Bossier City riverboat license was the Parish Council vote. The license move must also be approved by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
Two Legal Actions Regarding Casino Expansion Faced by St. Tammany Parish Council
The supporters of the proposed Slidell area casino say the establishment of the gambling venue would provide additional tax revenue and would create new jobs for the local communities. The company has reached an agreement with the economic development agency of the parish, under which 5% of the new gambling venue’s net gaming revenue is to be redirected to a number of governmental agencies.
The establishment of a new casino in the region will also bring a fresh money flow to St. Tammany Parish and the state of Louisiana, as it would prevent some customers from traveling to the Mississippi Coast and spending the money there, the proponents of the project also noted.
However, the opponents of the casino project have shared their concern that such an establishment could have an extremely serious negative impact on society that would outweigh the benefits.
Arguments both in favor and against the casino were presented at the last council meeting, with a number of pastors from the Slidell area calling for the council to delay the vote. Some business owners also asked for a delay.
As part of the opposition faced by the casino project, the Parish Council was also hit by two lawsuits that aim at preventing the measure’s inclusion in the referendum. The first legal action was filed by Carles Branton, a Covington attorney, who asked the District Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the council vote. This motion, however, was rejected a few hours before the beginning of the council meeting. The second lawsuit, which was filed by Pastor Raymond, claims that voters should give blanket approval of casino gambling in St. Tammany Parish.