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Monday, December 5th, 2022

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Gambling is everywhere in Louisiana. Presently, the state has 15 so called “floating” casinos, a huge land-based casino in downtown New Orleans, four racetrack casinos, 200 truck stop casinos and over 1000 restaurants and bars that have video poker machines. Wow!  So is there anywhere else where the gambling industry can go in the Bayou State to suck out more dollars from gullible locals?

Sure there is.  Go after the college students.  Even though it’s against the law for someone in Louisiana to gamble who is under twenty-one, the state’s flagship LSU is openly soliciting students to sign up for an online account and gamble on any number of sporting events. As the New York Times reported: “LSU in January sent a mass email to, among others, students who were not yet 21, the legal betting age in the state. The email told students of all ages that they could bet “on all the sports you love right from the palm of your hand, and every bet earns more with Caesars Rewards “” win or lose.” The company’s website said the rewards include a “monthly free bet” and “an extra free bet” during your birthday month, along with discounted hotel and dining options at Caesars properties.”

 Is this now the mission for universities in Louisiana? Promoting gambling on campus to impressionable young students even though it is illegal? “It just feels gross and tacky for a university to be encouraging people to engage in behavior that is addictive and very harmful,” said Robert Mann, an L.S.U. journalism professor.  “You cannot get away from it.  You take a daily shower in sports betting when you walk around.”

Casino supporters point out that the state is broke and about to fall off this so called “fiscal cliff.” But isn’t it interesting that the more progressive states throughout the south, from Virginia and the Carolinas all the way across to Texas, have developed new economic development prospects that offer their citizens better job opportunities without relying heavily on income from gambling?

It was oil and gas in the Bayou State beginning back in the 1950s, with no concern for the environmental damage or setting aside tax dollars for a rainy-day fund. Gov. Buddy Roemer raised the issue that “the oil and gas for Louisiana’s future was in the minds of our 5th and 6th graders.”  What he meant was that the mineral revenue is fleeting. We have to teach and develop entrepreneurs and people who want to build small businesses. The state should have been focusing on educational reform, with specific emphasis on developing a large tech talent pool.

Even the most basic clerical and mechanical jobs require computer skills. Instead, Louisiana opted to keep its citizens amused with domed stadiums, moviemaker tax credits, and more and more gambling. Since state lawmakers have legalized sports betting, there isn’t really any other forms of gambling to decriminalize.  Hey, let’s bring back cock fighting. “Keep em’ fat, dumb and happy, and we will all get re-elected.”

There are those who will argue that if someone wants to throw away their money, so be it. But study after study has concluded that there are dramatic increases in the social and economic costs, along with the upsurge in crime that can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars in Louisiana.

There are many ways in the Bayou State to “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”  Expanding the present high level of betting, particularly to vulnerable college students, should not one of them. There are just too many other ways to have a good time, without gambling away our already fragile quality of life.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the South and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also look over a list of books he has published at www.thelisburnpress.com.





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