Published: Saturday, May 9, 1992
Edition: THIRD
Section: METRO
Page: B1
Byline: By BRUCE EGGLER Staff writer


The New Orleans business community's opposition to a land casino could be cracking.

The executive Cabinet of the Chamber of Commerce voted Thursday to urge the organization to endorse a casino plan similar to the one proposed by developer Christopher Hemmeter, sources said.

The sources said the Cabinet voted 7-2 to urge the chamber's full board of directors to support any proposed $1 billion investment in the city, with or without a casino, that is "constitutionally protected."

The phrase apparently refers to a constitutional amendment that would prohibit more than one casino in Orleans Parish.

Hemmeter has proposed a $1 billion riverfront development anchored by a $400 million casino at the site of the Rivergate.

The chamber's 43-member board of directors will consider the recommendation Tuesday.

Chamber President James Monroe confirmed that the executive group met Thursday and discussed "land casino gambling and the importance of real estate development," but refused to give details of its recommendations.

Other sources said the motion to endorse any $1 billion economic project was backed mainly by L. Ron Forman, president of the Audubon Institute; William Metcalf, publisher of Metairie-based CityBusiness and New Orleans magazines; and Michael Sport, president of Production Management Companies Inc. of Harvey. None of the three could be reached.

The Chamber of Commerce has been on record against a land casino since 1986. Its board considered the issue again in March but tabled it, neither reaffirming nor reversing its opposition.

Several other business and civic organizations have voted this year to oppose a land casino, some without conditions and some until the issue can be studied further.

They include the New Orleans Business Council, the Downtown Development District, the Metropolitan Area Committee, the Bureau of Governmental Research and the Young Leadership Council.

The Greater New Orleans Hotel-Motel Association and the Louisiana Restaurant Association back a single casino, provided it does not offer lodging or meals. The Greater New Orleans Tourist & Convention Commission this year voted to take no position until it has more information.

Copyright The Times-Picayune Publishing Corp.