- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - The Lafourche Parish Council has approved restricting the location of any new off-track betting businesses.

The measure, approved 8-0 Tuesday night, prohibits any business with more than three video poker machines from locating within a mile of any National Register of Historic Places site, public playground, residential property, church, synagogue, library or school.

Councilmen were split on the issue at their May 27 meeting and were poised to vote down the bill that night before voting to defer the measure.

Though he cast his vote in favor of the proposal, Councilman Daniel Lorraine said he still didn’t support the restriction.

“I don’t like it, I don’t care for it. It’s zoning. If it passes, then this is going to open the door for more of it,” Lorraine said. “But nobody from the off-track in Thibodaux is here to speak on it. I thought they would have at least had someone here. For that I’m going to vote for it.”

Councilman Phillip Gouaux echoed Lorraine’s comments, noting that no one from the public has stepped forward to support off-track betting.

Though Councilmen Lindel Toups and John Arnold had abstained during the May 27 meeting because they own businesses with video poker machines, Arnold said he spoke with the Louisiana Board of Ethics and determined he could vote.

New Orleans-based attorney Kelsey Meeks, representing the same group of Lafourche businessmen who pushed for the measure in Thibodaux, said the language of the parish ordinance is the same except for a few alterations to work with parish code.

While businesses with video poker are prohibited from being within a mile of churches, schools and libraries, and now even residential areas after the Legislature’s session last year, off-track gambling locations have no such restrictions, allowing them to escape video poker regulations.

State law limits off-track betting parlors to a 55-mile radius of their home racetrack. For Lafourche Parish, that’s the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The parish’s only off-track betting location is at 1766 Canal Blvd., Thibodaux.

In March, the Thibodaux City Council approved a similar measure that effectively denied the business’ request to relocate to North Canal Boulevard.

The Fair Grounds’ lease for its Canal Boulevard location will expire in October.


Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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