During the weekend, after a few months of an extensive pro-casino political campaign and government lobbying, the voters in St. Tammany Parish decided not to allow the establishment of a large casino and resort in close proximity to the lakefront in the city of Slidell.
A total of 63% of the local voters opposed the casino project, creating a 26-point margin at the vote that saw the measure as the only measure on the December 11th ballot in St Tammany Parish. More than 30% of the residents who had the right to vote took part in the election, with the percentage being considerably higher than the one typically reported in such referendums.
So far, the St. Tammany Parish has never allowed casino gambling or truck stop-based video poker gambling services within its borders. Back in 1996 when casinos first started appearing in the state of Louisiana, the local voters decided to prohibit gambling.
So far in 2021, the company that unveiled a casino and resort project for the district, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E), invested much time and effort into a campaign aimed at reversing the ban. The gambling operator has been trying to move its casino license in the northwest part of the state to the southeastern part of Louisiana for years and has been hopeful that it would succeed this time. In 2018, the company had tried to get the casino license in question transferred to a site in Tangipahoa Parish but the Louisiana Legislature refused to move forward with the proposal.
DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City Will Have to Resume Operations in February 2022
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment closed its DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City, explaining that the casino market in the Shreveport area was too saturated. It had also shared an opinion that a new casino in the southeastern part of the state would be easily accepted in a market that has long been considered underserved.
The DiamondJacks Casino has been closed since May 2020. In October 2021, the casino owners laid off 349 employees and a liquidation sale was held. The casino held one of the 15 state riverboat casinos and its owners were willing to transfer it to the St. Tammany district under a 2018 alteration in state law that allowed land-based gambling operations instead of restricting them to water only. However, in order to move its license, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment was required to get the approval of the Parish’s voters first.
Although the $325-million Slidell casino project was controversial, it still looked promising, especially considering the fact that both the Louisiana Legislature and the St. Tammany Parish Council gave their approval to the measure and agreed to put it to a local vote – a move that cleared the way for the December 11th referendum. The casino project has also been supported by elected state and parish officials.
However, the proposal faced criticism, too. Slidell’s Mayor and Chief of Police, as well as other local city officials, said they were against the proposed casino establishment. The opponents of the project said they were worried that a casino would lead to an increase in the levels of crime in the region, and human trafficking in particular. Some religious groups, on the other hand, complained that the establishment of the proposed casino would lead to an increase in gambling addiction rates.
The rejection of the referendum question effectively shelves the proposed Slidell casino. Under the order of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, gaming operations at the DiamondJacks Casino will have to resume on February 9th, 2022.