Louisiana Casino and Card Room Gaming
Riverboats were originally required to be paddle-driven replicas of actual historic riverboats. By May 2005, 15 casino riverboat licenses were awarded.
In 1991, the Louisiana Legislature enacted the Video Poker Devices Control Law, which allowed for the operation of video draw poker devices in parishes throughout Louisiana. In 1996, the legislature amended the law to include a local-option election in each parish to determine whether residents wanted gaming activity in their parish. Currently, there are over 2,000 video poker venues located in 31 parishes. Video poker machines are authorized by law in bars, restaurants, hotels and motels, racetracks and offtrack betting facilities, and truck stops. Licenses to operate video poker devices are classified into these five types of establishments where the devices are authorized, and an annual franchise fee is based on a varying percentage of net gaming proceeds. Bars and lounges, restaurants, hotels and motels are assessed 26.0% of net gaming proceeds; racetracks and offtrack facilities are assessed 22.5%; and truck stops pay 32.5% of their net gaming proceeds.
During the 1997 legislative session, Act 721 was passed, which authorized slot machine gaming at live horse racing facilities in St. Landry, Bossier and Calcasieu parishes. Subsequently, voters approved slot machine gaming in those parishes, and taxing districts were established. In 2003, Act 352 passed, which authorized limited slot machine gaming at the Fair Grounds Race Course in Orleans Parish. And then in 2006, passage of Act 591 changed the number of slot machines allowed to 700, at the Fair Grounds Race Course. The first racetrack to offer slot machines was Delta Downs when it opened its casino slot facility at the racetrack on 13 February 2002. Harrah's Racetrack & Casino in Bossier Parish began slot operations on 21 May 2003, and Evangeline Downs in St. Landry Parish opened for slot machine gaming on 19 December 2003. The Fair Grounds Race Course, acquired by Churchill Downs, Inc., in a bankruptcy sale, had planned to add slots, but was delayed by Hurricane Katrina. In September 2007, a building at the Fair Grounds, formerly used for simulcasting, was opened temporarily as a slot machine gaming facility. The permanent slot facility opened in November 2008.
In 2004, a bill (HB356) was passed (Act 828) that prohibited anyone under 21 years of age from playing casino games, gaming devices or slot machines, or from entering a designated gaming area of a riverboat, land-based casino or slot machine gaming area of a racetrack casino facility with live horse racing. A fine of up to $500, imprisonment up to six months or both could be ordered for anyone disregarding the law.
In June 2005, the state legislature rejected a proposal (HB181, SB114 – the Domestic Cruise Ship Gaming Control Act) to legalize gaming on cruise ships making two-day excursions. The proposed legislation was written specifically for the parish of Orleans and allowed New Orleans to assess a franchise fee of 7.5% of net gaming proceeds for the right to conduct domestic cruise ship gaming distributed to the state general fund and a second franchise fee of 7.5% to be distributed as specified in the Act. A licensing fee of 3.5% of net gaming proceeds would also be assessed.
In July 2005, a proposal (SB354, LA Clean Indoor Air Act) to ban smoking in casinos and bars among certain other locations was rejected by the state legislature. The bill also provided for parishes or municipalities to further restrict smoking in many venues, but a ban on smoking in casinos would need to be approved at the state level. In May 2009, another proposal (SB186) to ban smoking in bars and gambling facilities was defeated in the state House.
Legislators have unsuccessfully attempted to pass legislation authorizing Texas Hold'em tournaments. In 2007, Representative Triche filed HB 484, which would have allowed bars and restaurants to hold promotional poker tournaments. And in 2011, Representative Baldone introduced House Concurrent Resolution 117, which asked that the Commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco Control not take regulatory or enforcement action against bars and restaurants that host promotional poker tournaments until the legislature could address the issue; it was overwhelmingly defeated in the House.
In May 2008, the Louisiana Senate put forth a bill (SB729) that would have increased the fee East Baton Rouge may levy from 0.8% of the net gaming proceeds from each riverboat located within its jurisdiction to 0.6%. The bill also would remove the requirement that the amount of the fee must be established by contract between the governing authority and the riverboat licensee. The bill was approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor in summer 2010.
In 2007, a bill (HB484) was introduced which, had it passed, would have allowed bars and restaurants to conduct promotional poker tournaments, with certain restrictions.
On 15 August 2008, a bill (HB247) filed by Representative Wooton was passed (Act 209) without the governor's signature. The bill amended the method used to determine the number of video poker devices permitted at truck stops based on monthly fuel sales to the average monthly fuel sales calculated annually. The bill also allowed for up to 25 video poker devices to be temporarily installed at the truck stop for 90 days after approval of licensure. After this period, the number of video poker devices would be based on the average monthly sales until the subsequent year, when average monthly sales could be calculated annually.
In 2012, Senate Bill 575 (Act 161) was passed. It statutorily reorganized the provisions regarding the licensing and operation of video draw poker devices and the locations of truck stop facilities. Some of the more significant modifications included: licenses to operate video draw poker devices for qualified establishments were reduced from five to three categories; a license to operate a maximum of three video draw poker devices at establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises; a license to operate up to 50 video draw poker devices at qualified truck stop facilities; and a license to operate an unlimited number of video draw poker devices at a licensed live horse racing facility or an offtrack wagering facility. Act 161 also removed the requirement for full table service for sit-down meals, except for qualified truck stop facilities located in Orleans Parish.
Effective 1 August 2013, Act 355 (SB164) was enacted, which amended the Video Draw Poker Devices Control Law. The changes prohibited the location of no more than five State Racing Commission licensed pari-mutuel facilities or offtrack wagering facilities that operate video draw poker devices within Jefferson Parish and increased all distance restrictions from certain surrounding structures, such as playgrounds, churches, synagogues, public libraries and schools, to one mile.
In May 2015, Rep. Helena Moreno proposed a bill that would use unclaimed casino winnings for victims of sexual assault. The bill has widespread bipartisan support in Louisiana, but the main opposition has come from the Louisiana Casino Association (LCA), which holds the state's unclaimed gambling funds. The LCA believes that gambling winnings belong to casinos until winners claim their payments.
In 2016, the state legislature created a task force to conduct a study of the gambling laws and offer possible areas of revision. In 2018, the task force presented its findings. The recommendation is to revise the gambling law to allow casinos to operate on land and to remove the requirement for casinos to operate on riverboats whether permanently docked or cruising allowing casinos to build as far as 1,200 feet inland. The task force's findings took shape as SB316, which sailed through the legislature and was signed into law in May 2018.
In May 2018, a new state ordinance went in effect, expanding the state wide ban on smoking to casinos as well as bars and sporting venues.
Louisiana Casino and Card Room Gaming Properties
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