Published: Wednesday, June 24, 1992
Our gambler governor has had his way; the violation of New Orleans has been officially authorized.
Louisiana law now provides for one casino in the city. Future laws could provide for more. There is no constitutional amendment that would allow the people, locally and statewide, to vote to limit the number of casinos or to forbid them altogether.
The governor, for all practical purposes, is designated our casino czar. He will name the members of the gaming commission that will pick the casino operator and negotiate the deal. The details of the operator and the deal will be shielded from public scrutiny.
The city, led by a mayor who also wanted a casino but wanted a share of the take for the city, was simply pushed aside and told what it would get - very little: this is a state government money-raising operation.
Consumed by their visions of riches, public and private, that rampant casino gambling presumably would bring, Gov. Edwards and a majority of the state's lawmakers - some, shamefully, from New Orleans and its metro area - ran roughshod over the cherished concepts of representative government and home rule. In the process, they showed utter contempt for the devastation casino gambling might well inflict on the historical character of New Orleans and on its current hopes for real economic growth and development.
For other Louisianians to appreciate the injustice of it, all they need ask themselves is: Would I want this to be done to my community - to Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Natchitoches?
The city still holds some cards in this game, even if the deck was stacked in Baton Rouge.
The city owns the Rivergate casino site, and has the decision on leasing it. There are things that can be done, or attempted, involving zoning, leases, City Charter amendments, master planning, that might control some of the damage. Some people are looking into challenging the casino law itself on constitutional grounds.
All avenues, both defensive and offensive, must be explored to protect our city's and our citizens' future.
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