Yesterday, we celebrated the 215th anniversary of The Louisiana Purchase. This pivotal event has been described as the greatest deal in American history. Historian Henry Adams stated that the purchase was “next in historical importance (only) to the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution. It was unparalleled in diplomacy because of Thomas Jefferson's political savvy and because it cost almost nothing.”
The price was a mere $15 million for 828,000 square miles of land, which equates to 3 cents per acre! Adjusted for inflation, the purchase price rises to a radical 60 cents an acre! In one deal, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the continental United States and assisted its ascent to world power!
With fertile land and resource-rich soil, Louisiana is strategically located where most commerce flows up and down the mighty Mississippi River. Jefferson astutely observed, "There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is America's natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market, and from its fertility, it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce and contain more than half our inhabitants."
Fast forward to 2018. In a legislative session rife with efforts to expand gambling throughout Louisiana, another "Louisiana Purchase" is about to transpire! However, this deal will result in a SOLD-OUT sign hanging over Louisiana.
Fortunately, Louisiana may have its own present-day Jefferson with the gavel, gravitas, and political chutzpah to curtail a modern-day property heist. Senate President John Alario, a no vote on every gaming vote so far this Session, can protect Louisiana’s best interest from his podium by telling Harrah’s Casino "no-deal - not on my watch" to the early renewal of its 30-year, no-bid/no-compete casino license. Allowing Harrah’s to secure a future monopoly to elevate resale value and then secure a buyer is a dream hand, dealt by the savviest gamblers at the State Capitol. The word's out that a Las Vegas-real estate company has an option to acquire Harrah’s — a transaction unknown to key state legislators considering the renewal.
U.S. Senator John Kennedy told The Advocate that he "talked to some legislators today and asked them to reconsider, I won’t say which ones... but I told them if we do this, there’s a real good chance we’re going to regret it. I don’t know what the rush is."
This new information raises the legitimate question whether we are getting the best deal possible for the state of Louisiana. If the Harrah's 'House' succeeds, it may well go down in history as the new Louisiana Purchase. Only this time, Louisiana will have been dealt the losing hand.