Louisiana Casino Rejected, as St. Tammany Voters Say ‘No’ to Slidell Resort

Posted on: December 12, 2021, 08:26h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2021, 12:37h.

A Louisiana casino project called Camellia Bay Resort on the Lakeshore Marina in Slidell met its fate yesterday. And it wasn’t one developers of the proposed $325 million mission had hoped for.

Louisiana casino Slidell St. Tammany
Those opposed to the Louisiana casino mission in Slidell campaign during the December 11 vote. Their efforts were fruitful, as the local casino question was easily rejected by voters. (Image: Stand Up St. Tammany Inc.)

Voters in St. Tammany Parish faced only a single question during yesterday’s delayed election. Parish residents were asked if they wished to allow a casino operator to relocate its gaming privileges from Bossier City to a designated area along Lake Pontchartrain, just southeast of Interstate 10 at Exit 261.

Approximately 63 percent of parish voters said they opposed allowing a commercial casino to come to the county. More than 30 percent of eligible voters participated in the local ballot election, a turnout that was far higher than expected.

Opposition to Peninsula Pacific Entertainment’s (P2E) efforts to bring its DiamondJacks Casino gaming license to Slidell was led by faith-based groups.

Our community has spoken!” exclaimed Stand Up St. Tammany, one of the anti-Slidell casino groups. “It was a tremendous effort of monumental proportion against the largest monetary insert in the history of Louisiana.

“We are so proud of the turnout and so proud of the fact that the West and the East side of the parishes STOOD STRONG TOGETHER to overwhelmingly vote one way!” the Stand Up St. Tammany statement added.

Fiscal Losses

Peninsula Pacific permanently closed DiamondJacks amid the height of the pandemic. The California-based casino operator sought a more attractive operating market and believed it had found that in St. Tammany.

P2E said in a statement that the company is disappointed in the election outcome, but “grateful for all the relationships that were created and the time that the community invested in Camellia Bay.”

The vote is a major loss for P2E. The company poured in $5 million to its campaign. Peninsula Pacific also donated $1 million to Hurricane Ida relief efforts, the powerful Category 4 destructive storm that delayed the planned November 13 balloting until yesterday.

Some local leaders believe the casino referendum dismissal is also a major financial loss to St. Tammany and Slidell. P2E had pledged with a successful ballot outcome to build a $35 million community athletics complex adjacent to the resort, and contribute another $5 million to the building of the Slidell ring levee.

“We know in economic development we can’t win them all,” conceded Chris Masingill, executive director of St. Tammany Corporation, the parish’s economic development arm.

P2E Future Unknown

With St. Tammany Parish unwelcoming Peninsula Pacific, the election puts the company’s Louisiana casino license in jeopardy. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board possesses the authority to revoke the license. Another option could be for P2E to reopen DiamondJacks in Bossier City.

The election rejection for the Slidell casino nonetheless should satisfy an ongoing lawsuit challenging the legality of the St. Tammany referendum. A group was contesting in court, in a complicated matter that reached the Louisiana Supreme Court, whether a local ballot referendum authorizing gaming in a single location is allowed under the Louisiana Constitution.

The plaintiffs’ argued local gaming referendums must legalize gaming in the entire parish — not a specific spot. They worried many casinos could come to the area with a December 11 vote favoring P2E.