Can Louisiana Survive Texas Legalizing Casinos?
Whether you like it or not, casinos and gambling are a staple of Louisiana's economy. Heck, here in Shreveport-Bossier, one of the biggest employers are our area casinos. However, you look at the financials, every year the numbers at Louisiana casinos drop a little bit more as other states loosen their regulations. Locally, Diamond Jacks Casino closed this year while other properties have been sold or are considering what to do next. Now, there's a renewed push to legalize casinos in Texas and I fear that could be a death blow for the state.
The problem with Louisiana is this: we as a state have the tendency of over regulating the industry while other states are loosening things up. This is just an example, but a couple years ago most of Louisiana voted to pass 'Fantasy gambling' on things like FanDuel. Awesome, right? Well...not so much. The legislature said they had to pass separate legislation to make sure the money and everything else was properly accounted for. To this day, fantasy gambling is STILL not 'legal' because the legislature is trying to regulate it to death and can't figure out a solution every one can agree on.
Another example of this idiocy is that we have a maximum number of 'gaming positions' casinos are legally allowed to have. Now, if you look at any number of states, they allow these giant gaming palaces and allow each company decide how much they want to invest and how big they want their property to be. When you're trying to be competitive with other states, wouldn't it be in your best interest to the very least attempt to match what they are doing? You would think. But not Louisiana, we love shooting ourselves in the foot. We love the money gambling brings to the state, but act like it's an extramarital affair. Our legislature calls it gaming and passes legislation that limits growth of the industry within the state. It's crazy.
Now, that brings me to the new push to legalize casinos in Texas. Statistically, most gamblers that come from out of town to visit casinos in Shreveport-Bossier and Louisiana as a whole are from Texas. So, right off that bat, that's going to take a HUGE bite out of traffic from an already struggling industry. The other part of this is that Texas isn't known for over reaching regulations. So, if/when this does pass in Texas, there's a good chance we won't just lose Texas visitors but those coming to our boats from other parts of the country.
So, what's the solution? Can Louisiana change their ways to save one of the few industries that are keeping this state afloat? Honestly, I don't know that they can. But, in the short term while they are doing some soul searching, state leaders better pray that the measure to legalize casinos in Texas fails.