Pro- and anti-casino campaigns for the St. Tammany casino project in Louisiana are picking up, anticipating the vote on November 13.
Mayors and Police Chiefs against St. Tammany Casino Project
On Friday, the mayors of the cities of Mandeville and Slidell announced that they would vote “no” on the November 13 referendum, which will ask residents to allow the operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E), to develop the St. Tammany casino project for $325 million near the Interstate 10 twin spans. The Slidell City Council issued a statement saying that it doesn’t find the project beneficial for the community’s future. Slidell is the closest city to the project’s site.
Slidell’s mayor, Greg Cromer, hadn’t expressed his opinion until last Friday. In a letter to the citizens of the community on social media, he said that that he was constantly asked where he stood. Cromer wrote, “My answer is that I will be voting NO on the casino referendum.” He said he read many studies and reports and reviewed both pros and cons. He also took a look at the city budget and financial projections to come to this conclusion.
Cromer’s statement comes not long after Slidell City Council voted to allocate $25,000 for an economic impact study on the casino proposal.
Mandeville mayor Clay Madden also posted his opinion on social media, saying he is “firmly against” the project. He wrote, “I do not think it is consistent with the beautiful NorthShore’s quality of life. While I respect the rights of all residents to vote, my family and I will be NO votes on this matter.”
The other opponents to the casino are the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith and Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal. They also announced they are opposed the project last month. In August, Chris Jean, another opponent, Fandal and Smith will speak before the Covington City Council while the community sees both pro and anti-casino battling campaign sides.
P2E Spokesperson Says That Cromer Is Flip-Flopping
P2E CEO Brent Stevens wrote a letter to Cromer, stating that the company wants to show commitment to the community and remove any uncertainty on the longevity of the funding for the casino. However, that wasn’t enough to change Cromer’s mind.
A spokesperson for P2E also issued a statement and said that the project could not be in the hands of a few politicians. Now, everyone is waiting for the citizens’ final word from the vote.
Jason Harbison, a spokesperson for the company, said that Cromer is “flip-flopping” on the issue. He said that the mayor welcomed the company with open arms and toured them around the city and eastern St. Tammany. Harbison said that the advancement of the project couldn’t happen without the mayor’s support. He also said that the city has just approved the impact study, so it would take weeks to prepare an independent report. Cromer announced his position only a day after the developer said that it would pay $35 million in full for the sports complex in eastern St. Tammany Parish upon passing the referendum, instead of dragging it out for years.
Cromer agreed to give voters a say on the matter since, 25 years ago, they voted down casinos and video poker. He acknowledged showing the developers around and said that he already knew where they’d want to put the casino. He added that such industries thrive in economies in depression when there’s a high unemployment rate. If there are no favorable conditions for the casino, they would have to compete with other businesses for employees. They would be drawing workers from other communities and take their paychecks elsewhere. Cromer concluded that that the businesses are up in arms.