New Safety Net For Gaming Revenues

September 12, 2006
Reported by Vince Atkinson

How should all the casino revenue generated in Calcasieu Parish be spent? It is a hot topic among elected officials, and they may soon change the way that money is doled out. The Lake Charles City Council along with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury are on the verge of changing the entire way locally collected gaming revenues are dished out.  This is a change that could make a huge difference in your hometown.

As more and more ribbons are cut at casinos in Southwest Louisiana the more important the revenues generated by gamblers become. Who can forget the massive dent Hurricane Rita left in the city of Lake Charles' budget after the storm destroyed Harrah's. As tragic as this was economically, local elected leaders knew it might happen. Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said, "We actually got the legislature to authorize right before Rita. We had the authorities to enter into that agreement." That agreement would have spread the risk among all the cities in Calcasieu Parish. In other words, cities like Iowa, DeQuincy, Vinton, and Sulphur would all get a piece of the "gaming" pie where as before, they did not.  Other cities that already had a gaming revenue stream established would not lose everything if one particular casino was shut down.

For the time being the idea of pooling gaming revenues in Southwest Louisiana is only an agenda item for the Lake Charles City Council. Council members are set to vote on the idea next week. Even if the Lake Charles City Council does approve the pooling of local gaming revenues, the measure will still have to be "green lighted" by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury before it can take effect.