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Gambling Bets Big in 2018!

March 16, 2018

Dear LFF Friend,

Just as casinos feature sumptuous buffets to lure patrons, the Louisiana Legislature is being offered a veritable smorgasbord of gaming expansion opportunities this session.

Although "gaming" has always lurked in the shadows of Louisiana's past, largely because of its history of illegality and corruption, lawmakers concern became support in the 1990's. Today, gaming forces seek to "modernize" their industry and may have found a friend on the 4th floor at the State Capitol.

It should come as no surprise that Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) will oppose any expansion as well as de-regulation of Louisiana's gambling statutes. "While some seek to 'modernize' industry regulations, lawmakers should never forfeit either their essential fiduciary responsibility to Louisiana taxpayers or their role as gaming's primary regulator. Any measure that removes original safeguards designed to abate corruption, proliferation, and predatory practices, should be opposed. When faced with the choice between protecting families or de-regulating gaming, it is the responsibility of legislators to first fulfill their duty to Louisiana families."

Every branch of the industry has worked overtime to encourage lawmakers, regulators, and local governments to support new opportunities:

  • Harrah's (New Orleans) would add additional hotel and restaurant space, and a 35-year extension of their contract with the state. LFF is not opposed, in principle, to the expansion of non-gaming activities at the N.O. facility. However, the renewal of the 30-year contract is a red flag.
  • Riverboats evolve from water-based organisms to land-dwelling amphibious casinos, with more machines in more places.
  • A riverboat in Bossier would be allowed to "sail" its license to rural Tangipahoa to a tiny creek.
  • Racetracks seek new games to be played on new machines.
  • Truck stops want to reduce fuel sales requirements and eliminate restaurant hour requirements.
  • Video poker morphs into other types of games to be played on Video Poker devices.
  • Brick and mortar facility limitations expand to the internet, allowing bets on real and 'fantasized' sports activities.

Traditionally when one segment of the gaming industry expands, the others must also receive concessions. It is no surprise that government has become reliant on gambling revenue. This dependence comes at a high price to Louisiana's most vulnerable.

A 2016 study conducted by the Louisiana State Department of Health and Hospitals and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found an increase in both problem and pathological gambling. Another DHH report supports those findings.

Using figures cited in these reports, the economic costs in Louisiana total as much as $245 million per year. The social costs to families, employers, and taxpayers are not included in this number. The study concluded that public policy emphasis should be placed on social and economic consequences of gambling, as well as the public health threats of gambling and addiction upon the families of those affected.

As the Legislature considers large-scale expansion of gaming, LFF cautions lawmakers against balancing the state budget on the shoulders of those impacted by gambling and addiction. Modernization should protect families, not the interests of a lucrative industry.

In His Service,
GeneMillssig.jpgGene Mills
Louisiana Family Forum

P.S. —Click here for Lauren Daigle's powerful moment at the Governors' Prayer Breakfast!

P.S.S. —Heads up! – SB 219 by Senator Troy Carter was voted out of committee yesterday and is headed to the Senate floor. This bill creates special protection for LGBTQ behaviors in Louisiana's employment non-discrimination statutes. CLICK HERE to join LFF's 60-Second Brigade team and stay informed!

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