But if you ask the retired Republican sheriff from Plaquemines Parish about the possible impact of his legislation, he answers with one of his infamous John Wayne-meets-Yogi Berra one-liners.
"It's not an expansion of gambling, in my opinion," Wooten says. "It all depends on your perspective, and that's my perspective today."
Wooten was waiting for the House Criminal Justice Committee to convene. His gambling bills, along with a few others, were scheduled for a hearing. When the meeting did start, Terry Ryder, the governor's chief attorney, brought things to a screeching halt by opposing all of the gambling bills on behalf of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who has vowed to veto any such expansion.
"I'm no expert on gambling," Ryder says. "I'm just a messenger for the governor."
Chairman and Kenner Republican Rep. Danny Martiny emitted a sarcastic dry laugh and comment: "He's just a messenger."
Wooten and Martiny ended up yanking their gambling bills from the agenda, promising not to bring them back up at Blanco's request. But Democratic Rep. Warren Triche, who's sponsoring a bill legitimizing poker tournaments, held his ground.
In the aftermath, a slick-looking video poker lobbyist in alligator shoes and a zoot suit didn't hold back his opinion of Blanco. Alton E. Ashy of Baton Rouge-based Advanced Strategies calls Blanco "hypocritical" for using the industry's money in her budget and referred to her as nothing more than a speed bump.
"We will come back at a different time, under a different governor and different leadership, and this industry will get its due like every other," he says.
Expanding gambling in Louisiana has less to do with Blanco and more to do with previous governors. Buddy Roemer ushered in the lottery, video poker and riverboat casinos; Mike Foster is credited with accelerating gambling and opening the door for Indian casinos. Critics say Roemer and Foster created an environment of political acceptance for gambling that could have a major part in platforms and war chests of upcoming gubernatorial elections.
"They have a lot at stake," says C.B. Forgotston, who lobbied against Harrah's New Orleans casino alongside such famous names as the Brennan restaurant family. He also lobbied against the Louisiana lottery for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. "It's a statement of fact to say they are going to try and elect whoever they want," Forgotston says.
Count him among the cynics who believe the Legislature hasn't heard the last of the gaming industry this session.
"One thing I've seen them do in past sessions is act like they have been beaten and, at the last minute, attach the substance of a half-dozen video poker bills onto a conference committee report," Forgotston says. "It's a very slick tactic."
The gaming industry is already playing tough this session. They have managed to wiggle out of a bill that would ban smoking in most places in the state, watered down another measure that would have intercepted winnings from parents behind on child support and managed to get Orleans Parish exempted from a bill that would have legitimized Texas Hold 'Em poker so Harrah's Casino wouldn't face competition.
On the horizon, slot machines masquerading as bingo are making their way into communities where video poker is illegal ' thanks to a legislative loophole ' and a powerful economic argument is beginning to stick in some areas.
Hurricane Rita disrupted five casinos in Lake Charles and locals are beginning to grumble for economic support to help create more jobs, as the state did a few years ago for Harrah's Casino in New Orleans. A similar debate is underway in Grant Parish, where many view an Indian casino as a saving grace to money problems.
Ashy and others in the gaming industry seem to recognize these arguments are a way to shake off the negative stigma of gambling in Louisiana. They're already using teacher pay as a starting point.
"I think it's somewhat hypocritical for the governor to state that we're going to pad her political nest by getting teachers on board, but we're using dirty gambling money to do it," Ashy told the committee. "At some point in time we're going to have to realize that this is a business. It is a legal business."
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue — the second in the last four months.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.