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."
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election the same as other candidates, filling out paperwork and handing over qualifying money. But he finished it like no other, doused with ice.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Jell-o sales plummet; Hamas kills suspected informers; bodies arrive in Malaysia and more national and international news for Friday, August 22, 2014.
That’s what Lafayette Parish has obtained in Pentagon surplus since 2006.
Qualifying continues through Friday.
The political tilt of the Senate during President Barack Obama's final two years in office is likely to hinge on a handful of female contenders in tight and costly races.
A former BP executive will be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom later this month while he awaits trial on charges relating to an investigation of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.