Hurricane Ida Postpones Louisiana Elections, Slidell Casino Vote Rescheduled

Hurricane Ida has delayed Louisiana voters in St. Tammany Parish voicing their stance on a proposed casino resort on the Lakeshore Marina.

Hurricane Ida Louisiana election Slidell casino
Hurricane Ida Louisiana election Slidell casino
Highway 51 near LaPlace, La., is seen flooded on August 30, 2021, after Hurricane Ida came ashore. Louisiana elections, including one to decide the fate of a casino proposed for Slidell, have been delayed because of the violent and deadly hurricane. (Image: USA TODAY)

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an executive order last week that postponed the state’s fall elections. The general elections previously scheduled for October 9 will now take place on November 13. Run-offs and special elections that were slated for November 13 — one being the Slidell casino vote — will now be held on December 11.

The governor’s actions follow state officials expressing concern regarding whether the elections could be completed in the wake of Hurricane Ida’s destruction. Numerous areas in the state, many along the Gulf Coast, remain without power. Several polling places, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) added, are damaged and require repair.

Following the governor’s announcement of the election postponements, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) and State Bond Commission, as required, yesterday signed-off on the gaming question’s new ballot date.

December Outcome

Hurricane Ida caused over $50 billion in estimated damage, Louisiana bearing the brunt at $18 billion. The deadly Category 4 storm is the most damaging hurricane in Louisiana history, behind only Hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana, now dealing with Tropical Depression Nicholas, is monitoring two additional storms brewing in the Gulf Coast. State officials hope by early December conditions will improve, and the Atlantic hurricane season, which is typically defined as June 1 through November 30, will be finished for 2021.

The December local vote in St. Tammany has major consequences.

Casino operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) wants to build a $329 million resort casino called Camellia Bay on the Lakeshore Marina just east of I-10. The blueprint calls for a casino with slot machines, table games, and sportsbook, plus a four-star hotel, numerous restaurants, and a boat slip for over 50 vessels.

P2E wants to relocate its Louisiana casino license from Bossier City to Slidell. The company closed its DiamondJacks Casino last year.

The LGCB says if a simple majority of parish voters back the election question, it will approve of P2E transfer request.

Sweetening Votes

Supporters and critics of lifting the commercial gaming prohibition in St. Tammany Parish are fighting to win on December 11. P2E brass believe they have the better hand.

We’re confident that the voters will support the Camellia Bay Resort, no matter the election date,” P2E spokesperson Jason Harbison told The Times-Picayune.

P2E argues that its Slidell casino would bring a host of benefits to the region, located northeast of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain. The company says the resort would create 1,000 full-time careers, with an average pay of approximately $45,000 per year.

Camelia Bay would also agree to the highest effective gaming tax rate in the state. Along with the 21.5 percent tax on gross gaming revenue that the state levies, P2E has agreed to set aside an additional five percent for St. Tammany Parish.

Economic forecasts project that Camelia Bay would generate $33 million in annual gaming taxes for the state, with $9 million staying locally. P2E has also promised to help fund the Slidell ring levee and construct a public sports complex near the property at a cost of upwards of $30 million.

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