A big meeting is set for tonight in St. Tammany Parish to discuss the proposed move of the Diamond Jacks Casino license from Bossier City to the Slidell area. The Parish Council is set to vote on the proposal to hold a parish-wide vote on the plan to open a casino in Slidell. Senator Sharon Hewitt won approval of legislation to get the ball rolling and she says this vote by the Parish Council is the next step. The gaming control board would have to ok the plan and then the public would vote on the casino in November.

But this move has drawn strong opposition from some folks in law enforcement. St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith and Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal are opposing this casino plan. They cite the risk of higher crime rates because of gambling. Smith quoted FBI data on the types of crimes associated with gambling. He says data also shows suicide rates also go up. He says St. Tammany Parish already has one of the highest suicide rates in the state.

But Senator Hewitt says this could bring hundreds of jobs and economic growth the the parish.

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Peninsula Pacific Entertainment holds the casino license from the Diamond Jacks property in Bossier City which closed last spring. The company wants to invest more than $300 million dollars in the new casino in Slidell. They hope to lure gamblers away from the casinos on the Mississippi coast line. The gambling company has pledged to hire 50-percent of their employees from St. Tammany Parish.

The Parish Council gets together this evening to make a decision on the proposal to put the referendum on the November 13th ballot. Voters in St. Tammany Parish said "no" to gambling back in 1996.

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