Professor says Lake Charles a prime market for gambling

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – A McNeese economics professors said despite growing concerns about the Lake Charles gaming market, the only thing to worry about is complacency.

When Pinnacle Entertainment announced it was doing away with plans for its Sugarcane Bay project, it left a lot of people disappointed. The gaming company said it was the best move for their bottom line.

The decision left some worried about the future of the local gaming industry, but MSU economics professor Dr. Michael Kurth was not one of them.

Dr. Kurth and colleagues recently met with Port of Lake Charles officials to discuss the state of the local gaming industry. Kurth said because Lake Charles is near the border, it still has a lot of opportunity to tap into Texas markets like Austin and Houston.

Kurth said Houston residents make up the largest percentage of Las Vegas tourists than any other city. Kurth said local officials should be encouraging those gamblers to visit Lake Charles.

"You can come down to Lake Charles in two and half hours and it costs you a tank of gas," said Kurth, noting Texans would avoid expensive costs associated with traveling to Las Vegas.

But Kurth said Lake Charles' ability to cash-in on those Texas gamblers depends, in large part, on how local officials make the sale.

"If you want to be a gaming destination, you have to give people things to do when they come down here," said Kurth, adding how gambling markets like Las Vegas and Atlantic City also attract tourists through spectacular stage productions.

Dr. Kurth also said once casinos are here, officials need to encourage more competition among them.

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