Every now and then, our state leaders get something right!
That now and then most recently occurred on May 18 when the Louisiana Legislature did not grant Harrah’s a 30-year contract extension to operate the state’s only land-based private casino with table games. With only six-years left on its current deal, Harrah’s wanted its contract extended before investing $350 million to build an additional hotel tower with 340 rooms. Of course, they promised the project would bring 600 construction jobs, 900 permanent jobs, and $28 million in incremental tax revenues and payments through 2024.
But can we really trust anything that Harrah’s says?
To be sure, they talk a good game. We recall when the gaming giant entered New Orleans market with big moves and even bigger talk. They even placed several Black folk in high-profile positions and started with a bang as it related to its commitment to diversity and equity.
Eventually, however, the drive to ensure that all of New Orleans benefitted from the economic growth created by the casino died. When it was no longer bound to reach milestones, hit quotas or ensure equity and inclusion, Harrah’s certainly did not go out of its way to do so.
We speak from experience. Here at The New Orleans Tribune, we can attest to the lack of action on the part of Harrah’s when it comes to sharing the wealth, particularly with Black-owned media. We have watched has advertising buys by the company are all but not in existent in media outlets that target the Black community, which happens to make up a healthy segment of Harrah’s customer base. Meanwhile, we have notice local mainstream, majority-owned outlets with regular placements, sometimes multiple placements in a single issue over these many years.
As far as we can see, Harrah’s is not committed to all of the people of the city and state. And with that, we are certainly happy that state lawmakers saw fit to hit the pause button on granting the corporation anymore exclusive contracts or special privileges.
It has had a monopoly since it has been here, and our people are no better for it.