St. Charles Herald-Guide

Ordinance gives residents public hearing on video bingo

By Shonna Riggs - October 17, 2007

The St. Charles Parish Council voted to approve Councilman Barry Minnich's proposal to prohibit future video bingo establishments from opening in St. Charles Parish without a public hearing.

 

The ordinance would require that anyone trying to open a video bingo hall go before the council and the parish residents.

 

The Louisiana House of Representatives' gambling oversight committee stopped a bill on June 20 that would have halted the spread of video bingo machines that closely resemble slots.

 

The Senate voted 27-10 in May in favor of Sen. Mike Michot's bill, which he says was designed to stop the proliferation of the slot-like machines.

But the House Committee of Criminal Justice took the position that the proposal by Michot would have the impact of restricting charities from opting for the popular Cadillac Jack machines.

 

Charitable gaming through bingo has been legal for decades in Louisiana. About 15 years ago, legislators approved video bingo at charitable bingo games.

 

Minnich noted that the Luling Video Bingo Palace was allowed to open as a recreational facility and the video bingo machines were added later.

 

"I'm not against gaming, I just think the public should have a say about whether or not they want video bingo machines in the parish," Minnich said.

 

Mike Henderson, director of the St. Charles Parish planning and zoning department, says once his office issued the permit to open the video bingo hall, the sheriff issues the permit for the video bingo machines..

 

"We issued the permit for the Luling Video Bingo Palace hall to open because it falls within the proper permitting guidelines," Henderson said.

 

In other council news,

 

A proposal to borrow $27.5 million dollars to construct a West Bank Levee got put on hold.

 

Councilman Ram Ramachandran, expressed concerns that the council had not gotten enough time to review the financing and requested the ordinance be tabled for two weeks, placing the ordinance back up for review at the Nov. 3 meeting.

 

"The plan doesn't seem stable to me," Ramachandran said at the meeting. "From what I'm seeing here, I think we need a fixed rate and not something that's going to keep ballooning and fluctuating the repayments."

 

--  The Belle Ormond subdivision was dedicated despite an argument presented by  Ramachandran that the influx of traffic from the new subdivision could cause more complaints from residents.

 

"I don't understand how the subdivision can get complete without the proper traffic study approval," Ramachandran said.  "We need to have the council post pone the dedication until the study is done."

 

Minnich pointed out that when the new subdivision development was getting ready to begin in Luling, he brought it before the council to speak on behalf of his district. Ramachandran voted it down.

 

Greg Bush, director of wastewater and public works pointed out that if the subdivision failed to get dedicated after having met all parish requirements the owner of the subdivision could file a lawsuit.

 

"They've done all the things we've asked them to do," Bush said.