Is Slidell Really Getting A Casino?

The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate broke a story about a possible casino resort development in Slidell. Casino operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, aka P2E, wants to transfer its license from its Bossier City location and build the casino resort in Slidell instead.

P2E wants to build a 250 room hotel and casino resort on 50 acres of 100-acre waterfront property in Slidell. The target audience for the casino is St. Tammany residents who already gamble on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and on the Southshore.

P2E is also sweetening the pot for St. Tammany and Slidell officials to support the development. P2E is promising to make a $250 million investment in the project which is estimated to create 1,700 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs, including 1,000 jobs at the casino itself. The casino is promising to pay 5% of all gaming revenue to the parish, which is estimated to be $7.5 million and it is estimated the casino will generate a total of $10 million in tax revenue for the local and parish government.

So far, there is no organized opposition to the casino development. Slidell Mayor Greg Cromer, St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper, and St. Tammany Parish Council Chairman Mike Lorino all expressed support for the development. This is in sharp contrast from the last time a casino development was proposed in St. Tammany Parish a decade ago by then Parish President Kevin Davis. Davis’s proposed development faced steep opposition from both lawmakers and residents alike.

Does this project have a chance? We will know if there is organized opposition to the development. So far, this project has buy-in from all the power brokers in the area. That could change if opposition arises to the development.

One difference between the project that was proposed a decade ago and this one is the location. The last decade’s project was supposed to be in Mandeville, which has more of a NIMBY element than Slidell.

Of course, the current coronavirus pandemic will be playing a role here. The coronavirus has decimated Louisiana’s casino industry as it has been subjected to reduced capacities and fewer customers have come to gamble due to virus fears. It is hoped that the industry would rebound as the vaccine becomes more available later this year.

The proposed Slidell casino still has some major hurdles to overcome. First, the Louisiana Legislature would have to agree to reopen the local option vote in St. Tammany Parish to allow the casino. Presumably, that vote would be held later in 2021. So far, the St. Tammany legislative delegation has been quiet on the proposal. Then St. Tammany Parish voters would have to vote to allow casino gambling in the parish. Meanwhile, the state Gaming Control Board would have to grant the license for the project.

Assuming all of the legislative and regulatory hurdles are overcome, the project would break ground in December 2021 and be operational sometime in 2023.

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