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."
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
WaPo Watergate editor Ben Bradlee dies; Clintons stump for Dems; Liberians stranded and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.