The History of Louisiana Gambling
Gambling has a long and storied history in Louisiana. If you are wanting to gamble somewhere in the south, Louisiana is the place to be, though I'm sure nearby Mississippi might argue the point. Outside of Las Vegas, New Orleans is the only major city in America to have a land-based casino.
New Orleans became the center of American gambling in the early 19th century. The Mississippi River allowed access to more American towns and cities than any other, so it was natural that the city at the mouth of the river would become home to the most gamblers. New Orleans culture was heavily influenced by its time in Spanish and French hands, when gambling was no great sin.
Professional gamblers began to travel the expanse of the river, finding games in nearby towns. When more than one of them were lynched by the locals, the gamblers decided to find another way. This was the genesis of the riverboat gambler era, which found its glory days from around 1840 to around the start of the Civil War, in 1860.
Belle of Baton Rouge Casino
Boomtown Casino Bossier City
Diamond Jacks Casino Bossier City
Horseshoe Casino Bossier City
Eldorado Casino Shreveport
Sams Town Shreveport
In 1868, Louisiana granted a 25 year charter for one group to organize a state lottery. Like many southern states, the lottery was seen as a way to raise money in a war-damaged economy. Of course, carpetbaggers from the north, in this case a crime organization from New York City, paid off Louisiana state lawmakers. The crime cartel became the organizers of the lottery.
This lottery crossed state lines, which was probably its downfall. Only about 10% of revenues came from Louisiana, and lawmakers in other states began to pass laws against it. The notoriety of the Louisiana lottery energized the anti-gambling forces, who began lobbying for a repeal of the charter.
The battle would continue for a generation. Ten years after its inception, the Louisiana game was the only American lottery of its kind. By 1895, the U.S. Congress moved to abolish the Louisiana lottery. When auditors learned of the depth of the corruption, Louisiana became a watchword for the anti-gambling forces.
In 1991, Louisiana passed a law which made no limit stakes riverboat gambling legal. Since that time, nearly two dozen casinos have gone up. Though excursion riverboat gaming was the original intent, it was quickly found that dockside casinos were where gamblers wanted to be. Most of the riverboats in the state stay moored at the waterside.
In 1992, the state passed a law which allowed New Orleans to build a land-based casino. Though there were troubles getting construction completed, the casino, which is majority owned by Harrah's, was up and running by the late nineties.
There are many casinos in Louisiana, most of them being riverboats. These are not just for locals and tourists. Some of the outlying casinos are positioned just across the Texas border, making it possible for players from Houston and Dallas to gamble.
You will find casinos in many towns and suburbs, including Baton Rouge, Charenton, Harvey, Kenner, Kinder, La Place, Lake Charles, Marksville, Mooringport, Opelousas, Vinton and Westlake.
Harrah's New Orleans Casino is one of three gambling parlors in New Orleans proper. You'll also find the Crescent City Casino and the Carnival Club within the city limits.
If you drive into Shreveport and Bossier City, you won't be able to tell the difference in the two. The two sisters cities boast an impressive numbers of casinos. Found in the northwestern part of Louisiana, their casinos are about three hours drive outside of Dallas, Texas. Many Texans cross the border to gamble in Shreveport.