Louisiana Parish Council Backs $250M Casino Resort in Slidell Despite Religious Opposition

Posted on: February 9, 2021, 09:40h. 

Last updated on: July 7, 2021, 01:12h.

The St. Tammany Parish Council last night voted to back a resolution that improves the odds of a $250 million casino resort coming to the New Orleans suburb of Slidell, La.

St. Tammany Parish Louisiana casino Slidell
St. Tammany Parish Council President Mike Cooper is seen here providing a COVID-19 update last year. This week, the St. Tammany Parish Council approved a casino resolution for a $250 million resort. (Image: St. Tammany Parish Council)

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) wants to relocate its casino license from Bossier City to Slidell. But voters in St. Tammany first need to approve of casino gambling. It’s been prohibited in the parish since 1996.

The Parish Council’s resolution allows state lawmakers to introduce a bill that would place a casino referendum before local voters. If the statute passes the Louisiana State Legislature and is signed by the governor, the motion moves to the ballot box in St. Tammany. If a simple majority of area residents back the casino, the Parish Council and P2E would be fully cleared to move forward with the development.

P2E permanently closed its DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Company officials said they would seek a more attractive economic area. They believe they found that with a 100-acre plot of land in Slidell that is located just off I-10.

P2E holds one of Louisiana’s 15 casino licenses. A change in the state’s casino laws in 2018 allows casinos to be built on land instead of restricting them to water.

Religious Leader Opposes Casino

The St. Tammany Parish Council held a public meeting last night to discuss the casino proposal. Fox 8, a television station in New Orleans, reports that several dozen people turned out to voice their opinions.

Pastor Casey Stark of Slidell’s First Baptist Church delivered the strongest opposition.

“Anytime a casino like this comes in, it causes significant problems and issues. We do marriage counseling all the time and we see people who drive over to Biloxi and Waveland and blow their entire life savings,” Stark said.

Casinos have a long track record of promising diamonds, but give dust,” Stark added, perhaps in reference to the failed DiamondJack’s fate.

Proponents countered that the benefits of a casino would far outnumber the potential negatives. They pointed to P2E saying the project would generate thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in annual regional economic impact.

The St. Tammany Parish Council voted 11-1 in favor of the casino resolution.

Casino Pitch Details

P2E’s $250 million casino scheme includes a 250-room hotel. The company says some 1,700 construction jobs would be created, and 1,000 ongoing permanent jobs at the resort once completed.

If St. Tammany Parish voters back the development, Pacific Peninsula says it would agree to pay $30 million for a sports and entertainment complex on the 100-acre property. It would additionally chip in $5 million to help construct the Slidell ring levee that’s been in financial limbo for years.

Should the casino one day come to reality, in addition to slot machines and table games, the Slidell gaming venue could include a sportsbook. Last November, St. Tammany Parish voters easily passed a sports betting referendum to allow such gambling in the area.