The push to bring a casino to Slidell made it through another step in the legislative process yesterday.
The Judiciary B Committee voted 4-3 to approve House Bill 702, a measure that would ask St. Tammany Parish voters whether they want to reverse a 1996 vote that rejected casino gambling.
If the bill navigates the Legislature, that vote would take place in October.
HB702 would also allow the $250 million casino proposed by Peninsula Pacific Entertainment to be built on a vacant property just outside of Slidell city limits at I- 10 just off of Lake Pontchartrain. The location is not among the sites allowed for casinos under a 1991 law.
Senate President Page Cortez said he expects HB702’s next step will be the Senate Finance Committee, where it would need to be approved before reaching the full Senate. A similar measure, Senate Bill 213, stalled before that committee last month. Being blocked there prompted Peninsula Pacific’s lobbyists to put their bets instead on HB702. Sponsored by state Rep. Mary DuBuisson of Slidell, the bill was approved by the Judiciary B Committee after winning overwhelming approval from the House last week. Supporters of HB702 then tried last week to detour it to the Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Committee, instead of Senate Finance, where they face the potential roadblock. But they won only 17 votes to do so in the Senate when they needed 20.
Peninsula Pacific is a Los Angeles-based company that operates casinos around the country. Religious conservatives are opposing HB702, as are owners of casinos in both Mississippi and Louisiana. St. Tammany elected officials and business leaders are backing the proposal.
When she presented HB702 before the House, DuBuisson said she is sponsoring the measure because it would bring investment, jobs and tax revenue to the parish. She said Slidell is a good site for the state’s one shuttered casino because it would keep Louisiana gamblers from going to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast casinos.