Yesterday a public vote on a proposed casino for Slidell moved a big step closer to reality when the Senate Finance Committee narrowly approved a bill calling for an October election on the issue.
The 5-4 vote on House Bill 702 advances the measure to the full Senate. Because the House has already passed it, if HB702 passes the Senate unchanged, it would go to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has said he would sign it into law and trigger the election.
The Finance Committee had held up similar legislation on this issue so getting Wednesday’s vote was a key development for Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, who want to develop a casino resort property right off the Twin Spans in Slidell.
Both HB702 and similar legislation supported by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt of Slidell have faced opposition from companies that operate casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi and from a religious-based group of residents in the Slidell area organized by the Louisiana Family Forum. The residents turned out in force again on Wednesday.
State Sen. Patrick McMath of Covington said there was no doubt this would be a positive economic impact for the state of Louisiana. All members of the St. Tammany Parish legislative delegation have indicated their support of the bill allowing local residents to vote on the future of gaming on the Northshore.