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Amended Louisiana Bill Allows Lawmakers a Stake in Casinos

6 May 2001

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – May 6, 2001 – As reported by the Associated Press: " Sen. Reggie Dupre, D-Montegut, says he wants to prohibit casino ownership by elected officials and their families, and he will kill his bill if it turns out to do the opposite.

"…The bill was amended in committee to allow officials to own up to 10 percent of a riverboat casino or the land-based gambling hall in New Orleans. Critics say that is a loosening of current law, which many have interpreted as banning any ownership.

"…Current law bans lawmakers from engaging in `any business activity with a casino gaming operator except as a patron,' including `modifying ownership or possessory interests in stocks,' Ethics Board lawyer Maris McCrory said.

"`That can be read to mean you may simply not modify your interest in stocks, but it doesn't specifically prevent you from holding an interest in stocks,' she said.

"But the Ethics Board was preparing to launch an investigation in 1999 when it became public that Gov. Foster owned stock in Park Place Entertainment, the former gambling division of Hilton Hotels and a part owner, through a subsidiary, of Bally's New Orleans Casino.

"Foster said he had inherited the stock years earlier and was unaware of its link to gambling. He eventually sold his stock and the Ethics Board voted not to pursue the case.

"While McCrory declined to talk specifically about that case, she said the vagueness of the current law would make it difficult for the Ethics Board to pursue fines in such a situation…"

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