TEAM COVERAGE: Gamble on the Red-20 Years Later - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

TEAM COVERAGE: Gamble on the Red-20 Years Later

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On April 18, 1994, the local economy placed its bet on a new industry. Could riverboat casinos provide a lasting shot in the arm, another economic leg to a region still recovering from the oil & gas bust of the 1980s?

To mark this milestone KTBS 3 News and The Times have partnered to evaluate what this economic wager has meant to the community.

  • Times reporter Michelle Marcotte tracks the earnings and the tax revenues.
  • KTBS 3 News reporter Craig Sims talks to community leaders and a casino employee who was on the job day one and parlayed it into a casino career. 


SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTBS) -  Exactly 20 years ago Friday Harrah's Casino, currently Sam's Town Casino, opened for business and ushered in a new era in Shreveport-Bossier. Today six casinos line the Red River, employing thousands. The gaming industry is one of our area's top three employers. It also created thousands of and gave the area's struggling economy a much needed boost.

Ashley Wade began her career in the industry at an entry level position back in 1994. Now Horseshoe Casino's vice president of human resources, Wade says she almost moved to Texas to find work before turning to the casino industry.

"I didn't want to leave the area," Wade said. "The casino industry provided me an opportunity to stay here. I met my husband. we're raising our children here, and we're an active part of the community."

Finding a job at home was difficult at the time. The 1980s left the local economy in shambles.

"You had all business go bust," Jacques Lasseigne, with the Louisiana Workforce commission, said. "So, we lost thousands of jobs."

For example, when AT&T left it took away 7,000 jobs. Lasseigne says the casino industry gave the economy a shot in the arm. Over the past 20 years, it has created thousands of new, service sector jobs and generated millions of dollars.

 "If I were to look up just one casino to see what its impact has been in just salaries, it's millions of dollars," Lasseigne said. "Taxes are millions each year."

As the casinos evolved, they've also added to the area's quality of life. More entertainment options like shows, resort style pools and more can allow locals to escape.

"They add value not only economically but social value," Dr. Woodrow Wilson, administrator for Caddo Parish, said. "Because most of the casinos bring entertainers here. So, people can be entertains and have some quality in life, other than this work life."

Wilson says the parish takes in around $2,000,000 annually from casino boarding fees. The parish uses that money to provide grants to several non-governmental organizations, like the Caddo Council on Aging.

"We fund that money back into social programs within our community," Wilson said.

The casinos, led by locals like Wade, also sponsor several community events and causes.


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