nbsp;A Louisiana House committee voted Tuesday to allow a referendum on a casino company’s bid to move its license from Bossier City to St. Tammany Parish.
The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice voted 8-2 to advance House Bill 497, which seeks to let St. Tammany voters decide whether a casino will be allowed in their parish. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board also would have to approve the move.
Senate Bill 213, which has the same goal, is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance committee. A judiciary committee advanced the bill earlier in the session, but that vote has been questioned because the chairman who cast the tie-breaking vote is married to a lobbyist for the project, The Center Square reports.
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) seeks to relocate its casino license, which is one of 15 in the state. The company closed DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City last year.
The Bossier City/Shreveport market is considered oversaturated. Supporters hope moving the license to southeast Louisiana will attract local gamblers who otherwise visit casinos in Mississippi while not detracting much from the New Orleans market.
P2E said its proposed $250 million venue in Slidell could support 1,900 jobs. The change could boost tax revenue by more than $60 million, though the Legislative Fiscal Office said possible revenue is difficult to estimate “due to a lack of specific plans and information.”
Opponents expressed concerns about an increase in problem gambling and prostitution in their area, as well as lower property values near the casino, while also raising doubts about the operator’s competence. They said the campaign leading up to the vote would not be a fair fight, pitting average residents against deep-pocketed gambling interests.
Most committee members, even those skeptical of the project and gambling in general, however, said they wanted to give residents the right to make the decision.