Apr 30 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) urged members of the Louisiana Legislature today to pause action on House Bill 553, which would authorize an extension of the state’s contract with Harrah’s New Orleans Casino and lock in annual payments to the state. News reports indicate Harrah’s is considering selling the property. The state could unwittingly increase Harrah’s selling price by extending the contract without receiving adequate compensation for taxpayers.
Harrah’s signed an agreement in October to allow Vici Properties to buy its New Orleans casino, hotel and parking garage. Meanwhile, Harrah’s wants an extension of its contract with the state. That contract – which doesn’t expire for another six years – gives Harrah’s the exclusive right to have a land-based casino in New Orleans. The agreement with Vici only recently became public knowledge.
“In light of the new information reported in The Advocate, the Legislature needs to put the contract extension on pause. The contract doesn’t expire for another six years anyway, and the state could be leaving money on the table by making a deal on a property that is about to explode in value,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Harrah’s Vici agreement is a surprise that could shortchange the state. Eighteen years ago, I was on a commission to study whether Harrah’s should pay millions less in taxes because of cash flow problems. I wanted the state to get Harrah’s stock options in exchange for lowering Harrah’s payments. I was out-voted. Subsequently, Harrah’s stock value went up.”