I have an affinity for the state of Louisiana. I’m from Texas, so there’s bound to be some cross over in culture. I have Cajun family members, I love JazzFest, and I adore New Orleans.
What I didn’t realize is how much I love gambling in this state full of Southern charm and history.
Did you know that Louisiana was the 4th state to legalize casino gambling?
The History of Casinos and Gambling in Louisiana
Louisiana is a state that has changed hands many times. The French and Spanish fought over it for years after they essentially took it from the native tribes living there.
New Orleans, Louisiana’s most notable city, built cabarets and billiard halls before the first church was completed. When St. Louis Church, formerly St. Louis Cathedral, was finished in 1727, the citizens chose to gamble rather attend mass.
Here’s a side note:
Because of the colonialism in the area, Catholicism is prevalent. Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday are state holidays in the state. It’s serious business.
Louisiana was part of the Louisiana Purchase made by the United States on April 30th, 1803. You’ve probably heard of the massive land purchase by the Jefferson government from the French.
Real money gambling in Louisiana coincides with its rich history. The first legal gambling in the then territory was a government-run lottery in 1753.
That’s 26 years before the United States Constitution was ratified by Congress.
Casino gambling in New Orleans remained legal and flourished in the Crescent City. In 1866, the now State of Louisiana finally banned all casino gambling, including NOLA.
The first state lottery was held in 1866. This coincides with the state outlawing all other forms of gambling.
The state lottery was a big hit with the Louisianans. A private company ran the operations of the early version of the Louisiana lottery, paying the state $40,000 in proceeds.
The LA lottery allowed ticket purchases from out of state residents via mail. This gave the State of Louisiana an almost monopoly on lotteries in the United States.
This was considered legal until the US Congress deemed it illegal in 1890. The Louisiana Lottery became so toxic that the state disbanded the entire program in 1893.
Horse racing has legalized in 1923, making the state a destination for live horse racing. The first betting horse track in the state was at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. This was the only regulated form of gambling in the entire state at the time.
In 1993, Louisiana reintroduced a state lottery that was riddled with glitches and corruption. I’ll write about this Louisiana Lottery scandal in detail another time.
In the same year, 1993, casinos became legal again in the state. 15 casino licenses were issued for offshore (riverboat) casinos.
The attempt to confine casinos to riverboats was to limit the influence casinos would have if on land. The idea was to also limit the player’s time to length of a cruise. A riverboat cruise is usually around two hours.
two of the 15 casino licenses could be on land. One was in downtown New Orleans and a Harrah’s location.
Harrah’s land-based casino was given a state requirement to employ 2,400 workers form the local economy. They have run into other issues as well.
Originally, they were not permitted to have a hotel because the legislature felt this would have an unsavory influence on tis surrounding community.
This is hilarious; Louisiana is home to Mardi Gras. Talk about debauchery.
And they were concerned about a hotel for the casino guests?
Louisiana is now home to almost 60 riverboat and land-based casinos. As part of the Indian Regulatory Act, 4 native tribes have opened 6 casinos. New Orleans has the highest per capita for casinos at 5.
My Two Favorite Casinos in Louisiana
Louisiana is not a big state — especially when compared to my home state of Texas. Louisiana is just 52,378 square miles. Texas is 268,507 for comparison.
You know how many casinos we have in Texas?
For its size, Louisiana is stacked with casinos. I wanted to give you my two favorite casinos so that you have a place to start.
1 – Coushatta Casino Resort
Located in Kinder, LA, Coushatta Casino Resort is the largest casino in the state. It boasts over 100,000 square feet of gaming space.
Coushatta is on native lands of the Coushatta Tribe. This is one of the six native owned casinos in Louisiana. The casino and resort employ 2,600 people from the surrounding area.
The profits from the casino and resort are redistributed to the community and native tribe programs.
The casinos floor is host to 1000s of slot machines and over 65 gaming tables. You can play slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and poker. Their bingo hall is 12,000 square feet. You can even get in on the off-track betting in their sportsbook.
The casino and resort have two hotels with spacious rooms that will fit any budget.
The resort has many family-oriented activities. The Dream Pool & Lazy River are a great way to relax and unwind while you’re on the property.
The Kid’s Quest is a family favorite and keeps the little ones entertained for hours. You can play their world class golf course or walk your dog at the dog friendly park
Dining options are abundant. The property is home to nine eateries and a Starbucks. The casino and resort have local Cajun fare and even a raw bar.
And let’s be real.
When is it bad to have a Starbucks when you’re at a destination casino and resort?
2- Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino
Located in Lake Charles, LA, Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino offers all the amenities and more of a Vegas casino resort.
The hotel and casino reflect the glitz and glamour of an Atlantic City or Vegas experience. When you walk in, the entrance is glittery with soft lighting and elaborate chandeliers.
The casino floor is monstrous. It has a 6-table poker room, high limit gambling, over 1,600 slots, and over 55 tables for gambling. One could get lost in all it has to offer.
The hotel is comprised of 1,100 guest rooms and suites overlooking a bend in the Lake Charles river and on a bay of the Gulf of Mexico. The hotel staff pride themselves on the classic southern hospitality that is known in the region.
The dining options are more than I could see during my stay. There are 11 eateries, the Blue Martini Bar, and a Starbucks. The restaurant options cover almost everything regionally to global choices.
There are quite a few nightlife options. There are multiple bars and night clubs. The onsite venue can host up to up to 1,500 guests for a concert of other entertainment acts.
The casino and resort are home to an 18-hole, par 72 scenic gold course designed by California golf course designers Todd Eckenrode and Origins Golf Designs.
The H20 Pool and Bar is a beautiful pool and swim up bar to meet your friends. If you want a gulf coast experience, make sure to visit the beach front. You can even rent scooters to get there.
What would a casino and resort be without a spa and shopping?
They’ve got both, and they’re the perfect option for a girl’s day of pampering that I always look forward to doing with my two daughters. That was a life saver when they were in high school.
The Golden Nugget Lake Charles is so much more than a regurgitated version of Vegas. It stays true to the roots of the Louisiana Bayou experience; it has something for everyone from the gambler to the littles. I recommend including this hidden gem in your next destination casino trip.
Louisiana has a rich casino landscape and history of gambling.
I didn’t cover any of the casinos in NOLA because I personally go to the Crescent City for enough other vices.
I don’t need gambling to get in the way.
I wanted to highlight the culture and native tribal offerings this state has to contribute to the destination casinos in the United States. I hope you are motivated to include Louisiana in your next casino vacation.
I love Vegas, but I love an inclusive vacation for my family, all while gambling, more.
I would love to hear your feedback. Please feel free to leave a question or comment below.