Should Louisiana riverboat casinos be allowed to move onto land?

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
December 27, 2017 - 7:44 am

Louisiana Casino operators want to building bigger entertainment venues that don't have to float.  It's an issue state lawmakers will face in the new year.

A taskforce is currently studying if the 15 licensed "Riverboat Casinos" should be permitted to move their gambling operations into structures built on land.

With the exception of Harrahs New Orleans, the state licensed casinos in Louisiana have been on riverboats since they were approved in 1991.  

Louisiana Casino Executive Director Wade Duty says they don't want to see locations of the current casinos changed.

"This is simply to get them off of the water," he explained. "The properties and facilities will be located, essentially, where they presently are."

Duty says the task force will report back to the legislature before they begin their regular session this spring.  

The Casino Association insists reforms are needed if Louisiana is to keep up with other nearby states such as Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.  

"Some of these vessels are now 25 years old, and are nearing the point where they have to be replaced," according to Duty. "The economic question: Do you force them to still stay on the water?"

Opponents says the casinos were licensed to operate on the water to prevent them from becoming overbearingly large and the industry is just trying to change the rules now.

Duty says the association is just looking to stay competitive with the other states.

"As these jurisdictions allow their gaming industries to evolve, we have not in 25 years."

He adds, "It would allow a development of more of an entertainment venue, than strictly a gaming facility."

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