It passed the House and Senate, and now, Senate Bill 316 is sitting on the governor’s desk, awaiting signature. When signed, it will mean big changes for the state’s river-based gambling casinos. Just how many changes we might see locally, we don’t yet know.
Since the mid-1990’s, gambling (‘gaming’) boats have called the Downtown Shreveport riverfront home. They have been good partners in many ways. They have provided jobs, boosted the collective psyche, they host fun events, encourage tourism, assist nonprofits and good causes with space, food and outright monetary gifts, and they have paid oodles of taxes to the state and the local municipalities in which they are located. Oodles.
In those years they have also invested millions into buildings, structures and infrastructure that will never roll down the river, even if the boats were to leave.
Also in those years, they have faced tougher competition from casinos in Oklahoma, mostly Native American-run land-based casinos that pay few taxes and operate under none of the ‘must-be-on-the-water’ and space restrictions as casinos in Louisiana. It is NOT a level playing field and the Louisiana casinos, especially those in Shreveport-Bossier that
are closer to Oklahoma and the Texas customers who enjoy visiting casinos, are suffering.
It is because of that that the DDA voted to support SB 316, which has:
- Changed the definition of ‘Designated Gaming Area’ from a square footage to the space needed for 2,365 gaming positions. (A position is a seat at a gaming device or table).
- Changed the definition of Riverboat to mean vessel or facility.
- Removed the requirement that the vessel be ‘steam-propelled, paddlewheel driven of have an operable paddlewheel.’
- Gave the licensee the ability to relocate gaming operations to a location within 1,200 feet of current licensed berth but only if there is a capital improvement and reinvestment plan approved by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
We believe that these are changes that are long overdue, and will help the gaming business in Shreveport-Bossier compete with the rest of the country.