Los Angeles-based gaming company Peninsula Pacific is reportedly considering two options regarding its existing gaming license in Louisiana. One is to close its underperforming Diamond Jacks Casino in Bossier Parish and relocate that gaming license to a new build on the Tangipahoa River in the unincorporated community of Robert in Tangipahoa Parish. The other option is to retain the Bossier Parish casino and plan for an expansion and renovation of the facility.
The Daily Star reports that reactions to both options have been mixed, with some commenters on its Facebook page reportedly saying that a resort complex in Robert would mean increased tax revenue and more jobs for the parish. They say the revenue generated from a casino could help better fund public schools, along with infrastructure projects such as drainage improvements.
Parish President Robby Miller, said, “When they start talking about over $100 million worth of investment, over 500 jobs, a conference center, entertainment venue, restaurants, it became very appealing to keep the conversation going,” according to WWLTV.
Some other residents, however, are concerned that a casino would hurt people, particularly those with low incomes. Other concerns include the proximity of the casino to Champ Cooper Elementary School, some had moral objections and some reportedly worried about what effect a riverboat casino would have on drainage in an area prone to flooding.
“The casinos will not add to the economy. They will make it worse, stealing from those least able to afford it and paying off politicians through graft. This is not a religious sentiment. Instead, it’s hard realism,” said author and local professor Dayne Sherman, reports The Daily Star.
Rep. State Senator Bodi White, whose district includes Tangipahoa Parish, reportedly explained to the newspaper that the process of approving a riverboat casino is extensive and one with many steps. White reportedly said that before Peninsula Pacific could move forward with the relocation option, it would first need approval from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
The plan he said would also be dependent upon several pieces of legislation. One significant bill that would need to pass is adding the part of the Tangipahoa River being considered to the list of waterways that permit riverboat casinos. In addition, the proposal would need support from a majority of parish voters in a referendum authorized by a Senate bill to be introduced during the upcoming March 12 regular session.
Senator White also reportedly said that the only way he could support the casino project is if the constituents are given the opportunity to either approve or reject the proposal. He said, “Ultimately the citizens of Tangipahoa Parish have the last word,” as reported by the daily newspaper.