Voters refuse to move casino license to suburban New Orleans | Louisiana News
SLIDELL, Louisiana (AP) – Voters in St. Tammany Parish have rejected a $ 325 million casino plan for their New Orleans suburb.
Sixty-three percent of parish voters who took part in Saturday’s election refused to allow a gambling operation near Slidell, according to unofficial but comprehensive reports released by the secretary of state’s office.
The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reports that the decision follows a high-temperature and costly voting battle between the California-based casino developer and an alliance of churches, local businesses and some locally elected officials who opposed the project.
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment had sought to build Camellia Bay, a casino and hotel, on vacant lakefront land near Interstate 10. The company, known as P2E, bought the land for about $ 14 million. dollars in February.
The casino question was the only question on the ballot for voters in St. Tammany Parish. The secretary of state’s office reports that 32 percent of the parish’s voters – about 60,000 people – have voted.
âThe voters believed in the right information, and it will be a blessing for the parish for years to come,â said John Raymond, a pastor Slidell and one of the opposition leaders.
P2E spent $ 5 million on the campaign, according to documents filed with the state’s Ethics Board. The company also donated $ 1 million to Hurricane Ida relief efforts in St. Tammany, according to the newspaper.
âWhile we are disappointed with the outcome, we are grateful for all the relationships that have been created and the time the community has invested in Camellia Bay,â said company spokesperson Jay Connaughton.
P2E and St. Tammany Corp., the parish’s economic development agency, had touted the casino project as an economic boon that would create jobs and tax revenue, recouping some of the estimated $ 380 million Louisianans spend. every year at Mississippi casinos.
Opponents have warned of high social costs, including a feared increase in crime and the siphoning of customers from local businesses.
Two nonprofits, Watchdog PAC and Stand Up St. Tammany, staged a vigorous opposition effort with TV ads, billboards and direct mail. It is not known how much they spent because group leaders have said they are not required to file campaign finance reports. But Scott Wilfong, of Watchdog PAC, said he expects the campaign to reach $ 1 million.
P2E officials claimed the opposition effort was funded by rival casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast who wanted to preserve their business with travelers from southeast Louisiana.