If voters in Slidell and St. Tammany Parish are to face a local ballot referendum…
Posted on: Might 26, 2021, 12:21h.
Final up to date on: Might 26, 2021, 02:18h.
Devin O’Connor Learn Extra
The Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee has, for a second time, backed laws that will permit voters in St. Tammany Parish to resolve in the event that they wish to legalize business playing.
Louisiana Sen. Gary Smith is seen. The state lawmaker’s spouse is inflicting some concern relating to doubtlessly permitting a on line casino license to maneuver to Slidell. (Picture: The Middle Sq.)
The Senate Judiciary B Committee this week voted 4-3 in favor of Home Invoice 702. If the statute passes the Louisiana Legislature, parish voters in October would rule whether or not to finish a prohibition on business playing that has stood in St. Tammany since 1991.
Peninsula Pacific Leisure (P2E) desires to relocate its on line casino license from Bossier Metropolis to Slidell. The Los Angeles-based on line casino operator completely closed its DiamondJacks On line casino amid the pandemic.
P2E finds Slidell a extra fascinating gaming market however wants parish residents to open their arms to a on line casino. If the potential referendum would move, P2E says it might construct a greater than $250 million on line casino resort on the Lakeshore Marina, adjoining to the Blind Tiger restaurant.
Committee Chair Controversy
Opponents to bringing a on line casino to Slidell voiced considerations relating to Sen. Gary Smith (D-Norco) chairing the Judiciary B Committee. Smith’s spouse, Katherine, is a part of a lobbying effort within the Baton Rouge capital engaged on behalf of P2E.
“I’m very involved together with your spouse’s reference to the on line casino folks,” mentioned Pear River resident Lisa Clayton. “I discover it an moral consideration. Many people are involved about your voting on this and your impartiality.”
With the Judiciary B Committee vote 3-3, Smith forged the tie-breaking vote to move HB 702. The longtime state politician defended his vote to Clayton.
My spouse was a lobbyist lengthy earlier than I met her,” Smith defined. “I’ve been voting on gaming points for the final 20 years, which effectively exceeds our time collectively.
“I’ve been a constant vote for these 20 years on that. She has a separate profession that’s separate from me. We hold it skilled,” he added.
Sen. Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles) additionally defended Smith.
“The truth that he was questioned about his spouse’s occupation may be very offensive,” Johns opined. “If he had been in opposition to gaming all through the method and adjusted his plan of action within the committee listening to a number of weeks in the past, I’d say one thing’s modified. Nothing’s modified. He’s been very constant.”
Higher Luck Second Time Round
Smith’s spouse’s lobbying for the gaming license relocation was solely revealed after the Senate Judiciary B Committee first voted on a St. Tammany Parish on line casino invoice. The controversy subsequently stalled that piece of laws (Senate Invoice 213) within the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 702, practically similar to SB 213, was launched to power the Senate Judiciary B Committee to evaluate the on line casino difficulty underneath extra transparency and full disclosure. HB 702 now strikes to the Senate Finance Committee, the place it’s anticipated to obtain a vote.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has issued his help for relocating P2E’s on line casino license from Bossier Metropolis to Slidell.
“It’s a perfect spot,” the governor mentioned. “Lots of people are going to Mississippi [to gamble].”
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