BATON ROUGE, La. – Voters in the St. Tammany community will finally be able to vote on the approval of a casino in Slidell after the State Bond Commission gave its approval on Thursday, clearing the final hurdle in holding a community-wide referendum.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board officially changed the date of the vote to December 11 a few minutes later to coincide with the governor’s order to postpone the election for a month in order to have more time to recover from Hurricane Ida.
So the referendum is finally on the ballot.
In a debate that has been controversial for many months, North Shore voters are asked whether it is okay for them to allow gambling in the community. The last time community voters were asked, they said emphatically no.
On November 5, 1996, 62% of the 70,507 participating voters were against the local option to allow riverboat games.
While still a bastion of Republican politics, the number of registered voters in the New Orleans suburban community has increased by about 60% to 185,510 over the past quarter century.
A number of officials are opposed to the casino, including the Slidell Mayor, the Slidell Police Commissioner and Councilor, and the St. Tammany Township Sheriff Randy Smith. The St. Tammany Parish Council split, largely geographically, in voting on the matter, with all but one councilors from east St. Tammany voting against and all but one on the west side of the parish.
If the majority of voters in St. Tammany approve, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment LLC will move its Bossier City Diamond Jacks riverboat casino to Slidell.
The proposed $ 329 million casino resort would be called Camellia Bay and could open as early as November 2023 if voters agree. The waterfront casino resort will have pools, a marina, restaurants with local and celebrity chefs, and a 4-star hotel.
The facility would be located just off Interstate 10, Exit 261, the Twin Bridge’s first exit east, and would employ about a thousand people with an average salary of about $ 45,000 a year.
The facility would raise an estimated $ 33.3 million in gambling taxes each year. Local governments would receive about $ 9 million annually in taxes on gambling.