Louisiana Casino Developers Behind $250M Resort Try to Woo Over Locals

Posted on: March 12, 2021, 10:01h. 

Last updated on: March 12, 2021, 11:15h.

Developers of a proposed $250 million casino resort in St. Tammany Parish near New Orleans met with area locals this week to gauge their support. The goal is to try to win over those who aren’t too keen on gambling.

Casino New Orleans St. Tammany Slidell Louisiana
Members of the Slidell, La., community are seen reviewing traffic plans for a potential casino resort in St. Tammany Parish. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment is behind the presentation. (Image: The New Orleans Advocate)

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, stylized P2E, wants to relocate its casino license from Bossier City to the New Orleans suburb of Slidell, La. Local voters in the St. Tammany Parish would first need to pass a local ballot referendum to allow commercial gambling in the region. This week, P2E began its campaign to gain residents’ support. 

“They get you to buy in,” said Barbara Doyle, a local businesswoman who told The New Orleans Advocate that she isn’t in favor of bringing a casino to town. 

P2E has launched an initiative titled “Northshore Conversations.” Along with a website and Facebook group, Northshore held two community informational sessions at the Blind Tiger in Slidell this week. The restaurant is adjacent to the vacant land where P2E hopes to build its quarter of a billion-dollar resort casino.

Attendees were provided light refreshments and free koozies and asked to provide their thoughts on what the development should include. A suggestion box naming the property was passed around. 

“Our whole process as a company is to make sure that it fits this community,” explained P2E President Jonathan Swain. 

Plenty of Opponents

St. Tammany voters rejected a casino referendum in 1996, as 62 percent of locals said no to the question. But a quarter of a century later, attitudes towards gambling have changed. 

Last November, voters in all 64 Louisiana parishes approved allowing sports betting in their counties. In St. Tammany, 67 percent of the vote backed allowing people to place wagers on sports. 

The result has prompted P2E into believing the odds of a casino referendum passing in St. Tammany in 2021 are much better than they were in 1996. However, numerous locals expressed concerns at the info sessions.

Common themes were the impact a casino would have on crime, noise, traffic, and property values.

I live next door. I have concerns with traffic, and traffic coming in and out of the waterways,” said resident Rick Woodroof. “I don’t like a lot of noise.”

“A lot of times, casinos don’t deliver on what they promise,” added local Luis Musa. 

Council Backs Project

Last month, the St. Tammany Parish Council endorsed a resolution to move forward the $250 million casino discussion. The council’s decision allows state lawmakers to introduce legislation that — if passed and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) — would allow a gaming referendum to go before parish voters next November.

P2E, based in Los Angeles, owns and operates del Lago Casino in upstate New York, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City, Ia. 

During COVID-19 last year, P2E announced that it was permanently closing its DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City. The company said it would seek a more favorable market, and believes it has found that in Slidell.