MANDEVILLE, La. — After more than six hours of discussion and debate, the St. Tammany Parish Council voted 8-6 to allow residents to decide if they want a Slidell area casino.
Before the marathon meeting truly even started, there was an effort to table discussions to allow time for “an independent study” to be conducted, but that motion failed.
Instead, the council heard passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. Council chambers were overflowing as people gathered to give their voice on the proposed casino.
The council gave Peninsula Pacific Entertainment or P2E and a group of pastors 20 minutes to present their sides.
“The vision of this project is greatly involved and improved as we have talked to people and listened over the last year,” said P2E President Jonathan Swain.
Pastor Morris St. Angelo who is against the casino said, “Casinos do generate crime and there’s no way around that fact.”
P2E maintains its $325-million casino resort will be family friendly and help the parish’s tax revenue while creating hundred of jobs.
The Sheriff and Slidell Police Chief are against the development.
Meanwhile, the casino is pledging to invest in making sure the community stays safe.
Brent Stevens, CEO of P2E said, “Combined with the local sheriff to make sure whatever needs to be done is getting done, we all have the exact same need.”
The Pastors are concerned quality of life will diminish and cause issues like addiction, sex trafficking and break families.
“Areas of west St. Tammany Parish should not be allowed to pimp out their sister Slidell for the promise of a 5% net revenue share left on the nightstand when P2E leaves town like they did in Bossier City,” said Pastor John Raymond.
Ultimately, residents are divided.
“There are many benefits to a casino, but only if combined with effective and proactive code enforcement to keep our neighborhoods safe,” said one resident in support.
Tressa Bell opposes the casino and said, “I just can’t agree with bringing something at the cost of human lives and that’s the way I’m seeing this.”
Residents would vote on the casino November 13.