Louisiana’s 15 riverboat casinos can now operate on land after a single vote victory in the Senate approved SB 316 and on May 23, 2018, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the law into effect.
The final legislative approval was the second time the State Senate agreed the riverboat casino bill, having garnered the nod in an April 24 vote, which was followed by a 53-42 vote in the House on May 15.
The subject of fierce opposition, Senate Bill 316 allows the floating casinos to move 1,200 feet ashore from their existing berth space. It additionally replaces a current restriction that limits each vessel to 30,000 square feet of gambling space, replacing it instead with a cap of 2,365 gaming positions. A gambling position reportedly encompasses everything from seats at slot machines to spaces around gaming tables. The latter being more difficult to be determined, the regulations will have to explain how that number is tallied, said Ronnie Jones, head of the Gaming Control Board, as reported by The Advocate newspaper.
The riverboat casinos interested in making the move ashore will reportedly have to wait for six months at least before submitting an application to the state Gaming Control Board, according to the newspaper.
Jones reportedly also said that gambling regulator staff is already reviewing rules that have been adopted by other states. But that it could be a couple of months before the completion of written regulations outlining application procedures, financing, amenities, designs and other details. Once completed, the rules have to then go through a series of written responses and public hearings be approval is forthcoming.
In 2017, $419.2 million in fees and taxes was reportedly raised by riverboat gambling for the state treasury. Sixty million was contributed by only land-based casino in the state, Harrah’s New Orleans, according to The Advocate.