A bill that would allow riverboat casinos to expand onto land is scheduled to be heard by the full Senate today, after being pulled from consideration last week. The bill would remove restrictions for Louisiana’s 15 floating gambling halls. Louisiana Casino Association Executive Director Wade Duty says more profitable casinos means more revenue for the state.
Duty says, "Having these boats on the water does not necessarily lend itself to a good revenue base for the state and also for predictable jobs."
Duty says Louisiana is the only state that requires casinos be seaworthy, and that’s holding back the local industry.
Duty expresses, "Being able to get these boats off of the water and into a land configuration improves not only your predictability as far as maintenance, but also for the attractiveness to the customer."
The bill’s sponsor, Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns, says the legislation is not an expansion of gaming, but Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills says that’s disingenuous.
Mills says, "It does increase their square footage, their gaming area, as well as their gaming opportunities. So it's undeniable in expansion. Not in terms of license, but in terms of opportunity."
Mills, a conservative cultural values advocate, says allowing those casinos to expand would increase the number of gambling addicts, which currently numbers nearly 180,000 statewide.
Mills expresses, "It's the final step in the evolution of the riverboats becoming land-based casinos, and that's just an impermissible objective in the state of Louisiana."
Another gambling bill, one that would allow Tangipahoa residents to vote on whether or not to accept a casino in Robert, is also expected to be discussed.