For the first time in 25 years, the Parish of St. Tammany will be given the chance for an up or down vote on casino gambling, with both the proponents and the opponents of the $325-million casino resort project in close proximity to Slidell are currently spending heavily during a campaign that would soon end with the December 11th election.
It will be a furious battle, with both the casino project developer and the alliance of elected officials, businesses, and individuals opposing the casino establishment spending massively on promotional materials off- and online to convince local voters to take their side.
Reportedly, the overall spending on the controversial question could reach almost $3.5 million, making it probably the most expensive political battle in St. Tammany Parish.
As explained by Ronnie Jones, the ex-chair of the state’s gambling regulator – the Louisiana Gaming Control Board – the heavy spending on the campaign in favor and against the proposal was not unexpected. Mr. Jones said he was not surprised by anything happening in the St. Tammany area and further noted that similar turbulent wars between groups that support gambling and groups against them were not uncommon for other states.
Penninsula Pacific Entertainment Spends Millions to Promote Its Casino Project
As CasinoGamesPro reported earlier, P2E, or Penninsula Pacific Entertainment, has been willing to establish a casino venue near Slidell for a few months now, promoting the project with the prospects of fresh tax revenue, new jobs, and more entertainment options pointed out as the project’s major advantages.
On November 12th, the Northshore Wins, the casino’s political committee, filed a campaign finance report proving contributions of a little over $2.3 million in the period from August 26th to November 1st, and expenditures of more than $1 million for the same time period. The next report of the committee is expected to be officially announced on December 1st.
According to reports, Penninsula Pacific Entertainment has also spent a massive amount of money to win goodwill in the parish, including a $1-million donation to Louisiana Coastal Relief and Recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The gambling and entertainment operator has made contributions of about $100,000 toward a family-friendly sports complex. The company has also promised to spend $35 million more on the project in case the casino proposal is given the green light.
The last couple of weeks saw P2E unveil a celebrity engagement in favor of its casino project from Drew Brees, a former Saints quarterback. The gambling and entertainment company also revealed that one of the seven restaurants adjacent to the casino project would be a steakhouse that would be created in collaboration between Brees and celebrity chef John Folse.
Proponents of P2E Casino Project Also Spend Heavily on Building Opposition
The proponents of the casino project have not been the only heavy spenders, as the anti-casino campaigners have also invested time, efforts and money to make their statement and get local voters’ favor. However, unlike the casino company’s spending, the amount spent by the project’s opponents currently remains less clear.
The campaigners, who have long complained about the gambling and entertainment operator’s large financial capabilities, have been backing their efforts through mailbox messages, campaign signs, billboards and TV adverts aired during prime-time.
They have also featured three of the local law enforcement officials – the Sheriff of St. Tammany Parish Randy Smith, the Chief of Pearl River’s Police Jack Sessions and Randy Fandal, Chief of the Slidell Police – to warn local residents that the potential establishment of a casino venue will boost crime activity in the region. The viability of the project has also been put under question by some restaurant and small business owners.
A number of elected officials, such as the Mayors of Slidell, Madisonville and Mandeville, as well as Lieutenant Governor Billi Nungesser, have also declared their opposition to the casino.