In the southern American state of Louisiana and a proposal that would have seen casino operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment bring a gambling-friendly development to St Tammany Parish has reportedly been soundly defeated.
According to a Saturday report from the Louisiana Illuminator, the Los Angeles-headquartered firm had been hoping to be given permission to transfer the license for its shuttered DiamondJacks Casino Hotel riverboat venue in Bossier City some 300 miles southeast to a new facility near the small coastal community of Slidell. This fresh $325 million property was to have encompassed an around 27,000 sq ft casino offering approximately 800 slots and some 25 gaming tables as well as an outdoor and indoor events center, a fishing dock and a farmers’ market buffet.
However, before this plan could be put into practice and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment was reportedly required to gain consent from the local population by means of a special referendum. The operator purportedly subsequently went on a charm offensive in an attempt to convince the electorate of St Tammany Parish that its project for a poorly served market would result in economic regeneration due to the fact that gamblers could come from as far afield as southern Alabama to enjoy some gambling action.
Nevertheless, the source reported that St Tammany Parish voters rejected the casino referendum on Saturday by a 26-point margin as turnout hit a higher-than-expected 30% with 59,695 votes being cast. This rebuff purportedly came after several local officials including the mayor and police chief for Slidell each joined with local faith-based organizations to express their opposition to the envisioned project owing to increased crime, human trafficking and problem gambling concerns.
The Louisiana Illuminator reported that the electorate of St Tammany Parish voted against a measure in 1996 that would have legalized casino gambling and video poker while opponents of the plan from Peninsula Pacific Entertainment lodged a pair of lawsuits in the summer that had been seeking to block the referendum altogether. There was moreover a petition submitted to the Louisiana Gaming Board from local critics Chandler and Jason Goltz in July that called on the regulator to dismiss the entire proposition on grounds that the operator’s riverboat gaming license was not transferrable.
Local pastor John Raymond led one of the anti-casino campaigns and he reportedly told The Times-Picayune newspaper that he was ‘elated’ with the result of the referendum. The critic purportedly praised the efforts of local businesses who had come out against the proposed Slidell casino while rejecting claims that his efforts had been wholly funded by gambling-friendly establishments in the nearby state of Mississippi.
Raymond reportedly told The Times-Picayune…
“The voters believed the right information and this will be a blessing for the parish for years to come.”