Gambling bills could affect LC casinos – American Press

BATON ROUGE — Riverboat casinos like the two in Lake Charles would be able move off the water if legislation filed during the current session becomes law. Other gambling facilities are also seeking changes in their operations.

Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, is author of two riverboat casino measures. Senate Bill 316 would allow riverboats to apply to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to locate their casinos within 1,200 feet of their licensed berths. It also designates that their gaming areas cannot exceed 2,365 gambling positions.

The gambling position requirement replaces the 30,000-square-foot requirement for gambling machines. The change is being proposed to accommodate larger slot machines with more features.

The proposed legislation also deletes the requirement that riverboats be paddlewheel driven. In 2001, riverboats were allowed to be permanently docked, the last major change in gambling laws.

Wade Duty, Louisiana casino executive director, told WWL-TV, “Some of these vessels are now 25 years old and are nearing the point where they have to be replaced. The economic question: Do you force them to still stay on the water?”

Sen. Gary Smith

‘People ought to be free to choose what they want to do with their money and time, as long as it abides by the law.’

Sen. Gary Smith


Johns was a member of the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force, which made the recommendations included in his legislation. He said the Legislature hasn’t had a meaningful conversation about the industry since it began operations in 1991.

“We’ve started with something we think is very manageable, something that I think has an excellent opportunity to pass,” Johns said. “There will be some opposition but the Legislature as a whole realizes the impact the industry has on our state’s budget.”

The legislation creating the task force said

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