A proposed casino in Slidell, St. Tammany, Louisiana, could have a “moderately positive” economic impact on the parish, a new study says.
The study was commissioned by St. Tammany Corporation, the parish's economic development agency, and conducted by New Orleans-based research firm Convergence Strategy Group Principals. The parties discussed the findings of the community impact report in a virtual meeting last Tuesday, reports WDSU, which shows “encouraging” results for the development.
The research focused on the impacts the project could have on Slidell, the surrounding community and St. Tammany Parish in a number of areas, including businesses and employment, property values, income levels of residents, crime and public safety, tourism and tax revenue to local government.
Researchers haven’t painted the same picture as developer Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, known as P2E, which claims the proposed venue in eastern St. Tammany Parish will be a major economic driver for the region. Instead, the report says positive impacts will be moderate.
However, the study might still be a win for P2E. While it doesn’t agree with the full scope of the developer’s vision, it reveals few negative impacts, which casino opponents have long claimed would happen should the development be approved.
"Through the research we see moderately positive impacts from similar developments across the country all the way down to just no impact, but we have not been able to uncover the negative impacts that many communities have feared," said Suzanne Leckert, an author of the study.
P2E’s proposal for the parish is Camelia Bay, a $329 million casino resort. It would be located on vacant land near the Interstate 10 twin spans, and it is estimated it would generate about $33.3 million each year in gaming taxes, says Peninsula Entertainment.
But not everyone agrees the project is the best for the parish. Anti-casino group Stand Up. St. Tammany has long opposed the development, and is now calling the study “propaganda,” claiming the research has not been done for the community but to change residents’ opinions on the project prior to an upcoming referendum.
“The major problem is that Convergence Strategy Group is not independent,” said the group in a statement. “It maintains relationships with P2E and casino groups in general. Convergence Strategy Group has done over 400 casino and resort studies paid for by casino organizations.”
The fate of the casino is set to be decided by St. Tammany voters on December 11. The proposal so far has been met with both approval and opposition, although a number of public officials are against it, including Slidell’s mayor, police chief, and the Slidell City Council.
St. Tammany Corporation has said it commissioned an additional second independent community impact study to further understand possible impacts of the casino.