Residents in St. Tammany Parish could face a ballot referendum question in November regarding a potential $250 million casino in Slidell, La. A new poll finds that a vast majority of locals hope to have a chance to vote on the gaming resort.
Cygnal, a DC-based polling and analytics firm, recently surveyed 300 likely voters in St. Tammany to gauge their stance on the proposed casino resort at the Lakeshore Marina in Slidell.
Of those asked, a strong majority — 93 percent — said they support allowing area residents to decide if the parish’s longstanding ban on commercial gambling should be lifted. In Slidell, 89 percent said they favored the Louisiana State Legislature and Gov. John bel Edwards (D) passing a bill to place the matter before voters in the next election.
As for the casino itself, 67 percent of the 300 respondents said they endorse allowing a casino to come to the parish. In Slidell, 66.5 percent of locals lent their backing to the gaming proposal.
It reinforces what we’ve been hearing from the very beginning. The public clearly wants a right to vote regardless of how they feel about a resort or the gaming aspect,” explained Chris Masingill, CEO of the St. Tammany Corporation, the parish’s economic development agency.
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment — stylized P2E — wants to relocate its gaming license from Bossier City to Slidell. The casino operator opted not to reopen its DiamondJacks Casino once it was permitted to do so last year amid the pandemic.
P2E is seeking a more attractive market in Louisiana, and is hoping to enter the untapped St. Tammany Parish.
P2E Commissioned Poll
Though Peninsula Pacific Entertainment paid for the Cygnal poll, its results — showing an overwhelming percentage of parish voters want to decide on the casino — will likely ease some concerns regarding whether the survey had any bias.
“Treat polling findings in a critical and informed way, subject to the potential bias you look for in any writing, and bear in mind that as tempting as flattering clients might be, good pollsters would rather be right than liked,” explained Rob Vance, co-manager of PSB Insights, a research and analytics consultancy.
But Opponents Remain
In Louisiana, counties are referred to as parishes. And religious leaders and faith-based congregations are leading the front to convince parish residents to reject gambling.
Their voices were heard, with pastors and church members expressing their concerns during public meetings with the Slidell City Council. The council subsequently voted against the casino ballot initiative last month.
The council vote, however, is ceremonial, and has no legal influence on the referendum process. Likewise, the St. Tammany Parish Council’s vote in support of the casino ballot question also has no influence on the state legislature and governor’s ability to move the referendum forward.