Slidell Casino Lawsuit Hearing Scheduled, as Delayed Louisiana Election Day Nears

Posted on: November 23, 2021, 11:01h. 

Last updated on: November 23, 2021, 05:40h.

Arguments will be heard next week in a lawsuit challenging a ballot measure that would ask St. Tammany Parish voters if they support a commercial casino for Slidell.

Louisiana Slidell casino ballot referendum
Vacant land just off Interstate 10 in Slidell, La., is where a casino developer wants to build a $325 million resort. But a lawsuit challenging next month’s local ballot vote in Louisiana stands in its way. (Image: The New Orleans Advocate)

Louisiana’s 2021 general election day is December 11. It was originally scheduled for November 13 but was delayed by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) because of damage from Hurricane Ida.

Voters in St. Tammany are set to face a local ballot referendum asking if they wish to lift their parish prohibition on commercial casino gambling for a specifically designated site located on the Lakeshore Marina. That’s where Peninsula Pacific Entertainment is seeking authorization to build a $325 million casino resort called Camellia Bay.

An ongoing lawsuit, however, could prevent the vote from happening. Next Friday, December 3, Keller plans to hold a hearing to determine whether the St. Tammany Parish gaming question should proceed.

Slidell Sides Argue Positions

Judge John Keller in Louisiana’s 22nd Judicial District Court ruled in October that the plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the St. Tammany casino question would not be harmed by allowing the vote to proceed. Keller concluded that if parish voters back the casino initiative, courts could later determine if the referendum was conducted lawfully.

However, the US First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that it would be best if the lawsuit was settled prior to the December 11 election. Handing the matter back to Keller and the 22nd Judicial District Court, the judge has called the parties to the courtroom in an effort to reach a resolution just eight days before St. Tammany Parish residents are to decide Camellia Bay’s fate.

John Raymond, the founding pastor of New Horizon Church in Slidell, is the lead plaintiff in the casino lawsuit.

“Mr. Raymond may petition the court for an injunction prior to the election,” the First Circuit Court’s ruling declared.

Slidell Casino Has Star Power

As reported, former New Orleans quarterback superstar Drew Brees is supportive of St. Tammany voters backing Camellia Bay. The Super Bowl champ hyped the community benefits as his reasoning. He specifically mentioned the $30 million athletic complex Peninsula Pacific Entertainment has pledged to build near the resort.

But there’s more to Brees’ enthusiasm for the gaming project. It was revealed today that Brees is partnering with renowned Louisiana chef John Folse to build a steakhouse at Camellia Bay if it comes to fruition.

“We want everyone to come and experience the exceptionally high standard we have for our food here in Southeast Louisiana, with an added touch of my personal history playing for a region I love so much,” Brees said in a statement.

Though born and raised in Austin, Texas, Brees spent the bulk of his NFL Hall of Fame career in the Big Easy. During his 15 years with the Saints, he led New Orleans to nine playoff appearances — highlighted by the team’s 2009 Super Bowl victory.

Brees retired after the 2020 season. Brees was a 13x Pro Bowler and finished his career as the NFL’s second all-time passing leader in terms of yards.