St. Tammany Officials Decide Where Local Casino Tax Money Would Go

Posted on: June 21, 2021, 12:28h. 

Last updated on: June 21, 2021, 05:18h.

The proposed St. Tammany casino in Slidell, La., would allocate five percent of its gross gaming revenue (GGR) to local governments. Last week, area officials came to terms on where exactly that money would be distributed.

St. Tammany Parish Slidell casino resort
A welcome sign in Slidell, La., pictured above. The Louisiana city could benefit greatly by way of tax revenue if voters approve of a lone casino resort during this fall’s election. (Image: City of Slidell)

The St. Tammany Corporation, the economic development organization for the parish, approved of how the estimated $7.5 million to $9 million annually the casino would generate for the host community and surrounding towns would be dispersed. 

The St. Tammany Parish Government would command the lion’s share — 37.5 percent — of the local casino tax. Sixteen percent would be set aside for the parish’s Community Enhancement Grant Fund, and 15 percent for the City of Slidell.

The remaining allocations:

  • St. Tammany Levee, Drainage and Conservation District — 8 percent
  • St. Tammany Parish Economic Development — 7.5 percent
  • East St. Tammany Competitive Sports & Tourism Complex — 7 percent
  • St. Tammany Parish Municipal Special Project Fund — 4 percent
  • St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office — 2 percent
  • Administrative fees — 2 percent
  • Northshore Harbor Center — 1 percent

The St. Tammany Parish’s 37.5 percent cut requires that a minimum of 12.5 percent be spent in the immediate area surrounding the casino. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) is behind the proposed $250 million casino resort and is targeting the Lakeshore Marina for the development.

More Local Benefits

In October, St. Tammany Parish voters will decide whether to lift the county’s longstanding prohibition on commercial gambling and allow P2E to relocate its state-issued casino license from Bossier City to Slidell. St. Tammany Corporation CEO Chris Masingill has been trying to win over public support by pointing to the fact that if the Slidell casino is authorized, it would be one of the higher-taxed casino in Louisiana. 

The five percent parish tax on casino revenue that P2E is willing to pay is on top of the 21.5 percent the state levies on GGR. Louisiana is currently home to 13 riverboats in operation, plus one land-based casino — Harrah’s New Orleans.

Masingill also points to the host agreement P2E agreed to that requires the California-based casino operator to spend $35 million on a sports and recreation complex in east St. Tammany. The facility would receive seven percent of the five percent GGR local tax. 

We found that P2E maintains a gold standard in this industry and is a responsible local partner,” Masingill said recently. 

However, when P2E permanently closed its DiamondJacks Casino last year amid the pandemic, it put more than 400 people permanently out of work.

Religious Opponents

Not all are in favor of a Slidell casino. And the opposition is largely being led by area pastors. 

Faith leaders argued before the Slidell City Council and a state Senate committee that casinos and gambling lead to more suicides, broken marriages, and numerous other social harms.

“We get left holding the bag,” opined pastor Randy Boyett of the Thompson Road Baptist Church in Slidell.

In an effort to sway voters against the casino ballot referendum, religious groups, including the Louisiana Family Forum, have been mailing fliers to local citizens urging them to vote “no” on the gaming question on Oct. 9.