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."
American companies export smog; UN calls for cease-fire in Gaza; fist bump keeps germ transfer down and more national and international news for Monday, July 28, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.
Thousands of people who bought health insurance through the marketplace created by the federal health care overhaul face price hikes next year that could top 10 percent.
Louisiana fell one spot in an annual national ranking of child well-being that looks at poverty, education and health access.
A federal judge has decided he doesn't need to hear more arguments in the case of a gay couple who want a Louisiana marriage license.
Saints again bring playoff aspirations into 2014 campaign.
New details in the case against the man arrested for last week’s bomb threat and bank robbery has surfaced, including a MidSouth Bank surveillance video showing the alleged suspect attempt an early-morning bank robbery.
Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.
An arrest was announced this morning in connection with last week’s bomb scare at UL Lafayette.
Attorneys, judges and others interviewed by LaPolitics expect 15 to 20 district judge races this year.
"I feel like I'm under siege," an attorney said recently over drinks at Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. "We all do. Every time I turn around somebody wants a check. District attorney races. The judges. They're killing us."
As a requirement for running for Congress in the 6th District, former Gov. Edwin Edwards has filed his financial disclosure statement with the U.S. House showing his income in 2013 totaling $242,787.
Unlike those swindled by Bernie Madoff, the victims of Texas businessman Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme won’t be getting any relief from the Securities Investor Protection Corp.’s emergency fund after a recent appellate court ruling.
The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over Common Core, which has become controversial since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards in 2010.
The lone Democrat to announce he's running for governor, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, criticized Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's budgeting tactics as "running the state like a big Ponzi scheme."