Louisiana Governor Appoints Control Board Members, But Not Chairperson

Posted on: July 10, 2021, 02:09h. 

Last updated on: July 10, 2021, 05:58h.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has named two members to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, but not a replacement for the vacant chairperson position.

John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) gestures during an address on state issues. Edwards has yet to name a chairperson to the Gaming Control Board. (Image: KPLC-TV)

The governor appointed Ashley Anderson Taylor of Hammond to the nine-member board and reappointed Claude D. Jackson of Rodessa. Edwards announced the appointments Friday on his website. The board regulates gaming in Louisiana.

Edwards has not appointed a replacement for former Chairman Mike Noel, who resigned June 9.

If Noel had sought to remain on the board, a legislative committee likely would have questioned him about his role as a State Police official when Black motorist Ronald Greene was killed in 2019. Greene died after state troopers stunned, punched, and dragged him, the Associated Press reported. No troopers have been charged in the incident, which is under federal investigation.

The governor’s spokesperson, Christina Stephen, said Edwards will name a Control Board chairperson “sooner rather than later.”

“The governor is working to find a commissioner with the right skill and experience to lead during this important time for the gaming industry in Louisiana,” she said.

Senator Seeks Regulatory Job

Sen. Ronnie Johns (R) has spoken with the governor about the position and indicated he would like to serve in that role. Johns is from Lake Charles, one of the state’s casino hubs. The Lake Charles area was hit by two major hurricanes last year and is still recovering.

“It’s the governor’s call to make, but should he honor me by offering me the position, I would very much like to serve,” the senator said.

Greg Hilburn, a reporter for the USA Today Network in Louisiana, speculated on Twitter that the governor has not named Johns yet because the Democrat Edwards might need the GOP senator’s vote in a “looming veto override session.”

“Just a theory being talking about by lawmakers,” the reporter tweeted.

Wagering Probable in 2022 

State Senate President Page Cortez (R) has said Noel’s resignation created a “hiccup” in the effort to have sports betting up and running in the state by football season this fall. Professional and college football have a high level of interest in Louisiana.

Cortez sponsored one of the bills needed to implement mobile and onsite sports betting in the state. The legislative session ended June 10 at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. The governor signed the sports betting bills a short time later. 

Before anyone can place a legal sports bet in Louisiana, the Gaming Control Board must set the rules to regulate the industry. Once sports betting rules are in place, wagers will be legal in the 55 of 64 parishes that approved it in last November’s election.

The former chairman told Cortez the process to set up regulatory rules could delay sports betting in the state until early 2022.

Though board staff members are working on regulations, the panel will “soon get to a fork in the road” where a chairman will be needed to make key decisions, said Wade Duty of the Casino Association of Louisiana. 

“I’m not pushing the panic button just yet, the trade group’s executive dictator recently said.