Senate Votes to Expand Gambling, but Turns Down Diamond Jacks
The Louisiana Senate votes 22-14 to let the state's 15 riverboat casinos move onto land and expand the gambling space.
This measure would let the casinos move within 1,200 feet of their current locations. But this bill also mandates the casinos would have to show "economic development" justification to the state Gaming Control Board in order to move to land.
But gambling opponents tried hard to kill the measure. Shreveport Senator John Milkovich says he knows people who have lost their homes and jobs because of gambling addictions. He also knew people who committed suicide after suffering gambling losses. He says gambling "is funneling money from the middle class to financial syndicates."
On the other side of the debate is Shreveport Senator Barrow Peacock who says this measure will create jobs and increase tax dollars for the state.
Peacock says “we need this, Shreveport/Bossier wouldn’t be the same today if it didn’t have its riverboats.”
The Senate did reject other gambling bills including the measure to let Diamond Jacks move from Bossier City to Tangipahoa Parish in south Louisiana. It's unclear if this kills the plan to move the local boat out of the Shreveport Bossier market.
Under the expansion bill, the casinos would be limited to 2,635 gambling machines and seats rather than the current 30,000 square foot limit. The Gaming Control Board would have to set up guidelines for what counts as a gambling seat.
Opponents argue that this is an expansion of gaming and will lead to more gambling addiction.
The bill to expand gambling is now headed to the House.