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tiggerpolice 06-21-2005 07:09 AM

Senate approves slot machine bill for the Saints
Senate approves slot machine bill for the Saints

By The Associated Press

6:30 p.m.
When slot machines go online at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, the Saints would be in line to get a part of the local area's share of the tax dollars generated by the gambling, under a change made to a bill Monday by the full Senate.

The money would help the state meet its annual payments to the New Orleans Saints, though backers of the provision don't know how much money would be generated for the payments. The state is estimated to be short of what is needed to pay the NFL team each year for the remainder of its contract with the Saints.

The bill goes back to the House for approval of the change, which is backed by the sponsor of the measure, Rep. Peppi Bruneau, R-New Orleans.

The Saints' payment would fall after a line of New Orleans area projects outlined in the bill for receipt of the slots tax dollars, including beautification projects and other sports events.

Annual shortfalls are projected in the state's payments to the Saints as part of a 10-year, $186 million agreement negotiated by Gov. Mike Foster's administration in 2001. The state is estimated to be about $9 million short on its $15 million payment due to the Saints on July 5.

Lawmakers are searching for ways to generate those dollars.

A House-backed bill that provides a separate gambling source of money for the Saints -- tax money from slot machines at the Louis Armstrong International Airport -- remains stalled in the Senate, opposed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco as an expansion of gambling.

Voters from Jefferson Parish, where the airport is located, would have to approve the slot machines before they would be placed in the four airport terminals.

New Orleans lawmakers disagreed with a Blanco-backed proposal that would have raised taxes on New Orleans hotels, rental cars and football tickets to raise cash for the NFL team. Those tax proposals never even came up for a legislative vote.

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