Sports wagering bill advances in the La. legislature; union for casino workers releases guidelines

State legislature discusses guidelines to reopen casinos

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A bill on sports wagering sailed out of a state legislative committee on Tuesday (May 5), meanwhile an international union representing casino workers released guidelines it thinks should be in place to protect casino staffers and customers.

Inside the State Capitol building a sports wagering bill by Sen. Cameron Henry raced through a senate committee.

"The bill does not specify who will be able to sports wager, who will not, it just says let's go parish-by-parish and see who wants it and then we'll have the joy of figuring that out next session,” Henry said.

If Henry’s bill makes it through the full legislative process this spring, then in November voters statewide would decide if they want to allow sports wagering in their respective parishes.

Not long before the discussion on gaming legislation by state lawmakers, UNITE HERE, an international union for casino workers released its guidelines for protecting workers and people who patronize casinos.

Among the union’s recommendations is that all workers be tested for the coronavirus for free.

"We think every single worker before they go back to work should be tested for COVID-19 and the employers should pay for that,” said D. Taylor, President of UNITE HERE.

The labor union also wants PPEs available for casino workers and guests.

Marlene Patrick Cooper is a leader of UNITE HERE Local 23 in New Orleans.

She said cleaning staffs at casinos need to be increased due to the pandemic.

"As soon as a guest gets up from a slot machine an EVS attendant in that area is going to have to be standing and waiting for that guest to get up so that they can clean a chair, clean a machine,” she said.

Brenda Tucker Cassity took part in the videoconference put on by the union. She works at a casino along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"I'm like most of the employees, I am eager to get back to work. I want to get back to work,” Cassity said.

Louisiana has already begun work on how to safely reopen gaming establishments. The Resilient Louisiana Commission’s Gaming Task Force issued a long list of recommendations on April 30.

The full list of RLC Gaming Task Force recommendations can be found at: www.OpportunityLouisiana.com/ResilientLouisiana

Don Pierson, co-chairman of the RLC issued the following statement:

“We're appreciative of the quick work done by Resilient Louisiana's Gaming Task Force, and appreciative of the task force recommendations submitted late last week.

We also are glad to receive additional viewpoints and will review the information compiled by UNITE HERE and others who have feedback to share, as the Commission works toward providing the Governor with preliminary recommendations for reopening the economy, including the gaming industry.

At this point, the State of Louisiana remains under the Governor’s Stay at Home Order through May 15, and it’s premature to anticipate what specific steps will occur on May 15, or beyond. When we do take those steps, all of this feedback will be instrumental in helping us identify the right steps to take as we reopen casinos and other places of business.”

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