The introduction and expansion of legalized gaming have been a long time coming in Louisiana. Voters in the St. Tammany Parish could be given a chance to vote on a casino development in the 2021 election in November. The development in question would be the 250 million USD casino project that will be located in Slidell, Louisiana if voters approve. A recent survey has shown that a significant majority of St. Tammany locals would like to have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the gaming resort should be built in the parish.
The survey was completed with 300 voters in the Parish to find out what these locals' thoughts are on the proposed casino development at the Lakeshore Marina. The poll was conducted by Cygnal, which is an analytics and polling firm based in Washington, D.C. The results of the poll showed that 93% are in support of giving residents an opportunity to vote on whether the commercial gambling ban should be lifted. Additionally, 89% of the responses are in support of Governor John bel Edwards and the state legislature, to pass a bill that allows for a referendum and an opportunity for voters to make the decision in the next general election.
When it came to the topic of the proposed casino project, of the 300 respondents, 67% of them said that they also support the construction of a casino in the parish. Additionally, also based on the polling results, 66.5% of Slidell residents are in favour of the gaming proposal. The results from the poll also track with the results from the November 2020 elections when voters decided on legalizing sports wagering in 55 out of 64 parishes. This means that a casino being constructed in the parish could lead to an even bigger gaming expansion allowing the parish to generate more revenue.
Cygnal was commissioned to run the poll by Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E). The casino operator has intentions to move its operation to Slidell, given the market potential. The operator would relocate its gaming license from Bossier City as it has not reopened its DiamondJacks Casino since all gaming locations were shut down last year. This was a choice made by P2E to take advantage of other locations within the state such as St. Tammany Parish.
The use of independent polling solutions means that any biases, even given the overwhelming results in support of a casino, has been removed from the equation. An industry analyst, Rob Vance commented on the results and said that pollsters prefer accurate results and do not favour any biases. These companies pride themselves on providing unbiased results and would rather be accurate rather than liked in any given industry.
The results show that many residents are in support of a gaming expansion in St. Tammany Parish and the November election clearly shows that the majority of Louisiana residents. However, there is still opposition to gambling in the state. The opponents to any form of gambling within the parishes come from faith-based congregations and religious leaders. In April, public meetings were held with the Slidell City Council. Church members and pastors voiced their opinions and were heard which led to the council voting against the ballot measure for a casino in the Parish.
However, the vote to reject the referendum that will allow voters to decide on whether or not the parish receives a casino or the vote from the St. Tammany Parish Council that was in favour of it, do not count against or toward the progression of the legislation. The governor and the legislature will need to keep in mind what has been learned from the polls and council decisions and decide on how to move forward. The public meetings and votes heard at council meetings were completely ceremonial and the legal process for the state and the parishes will continue until approval or rejection is met for whether or not voters in the state will be heard when the Next election comes around.