Jeremy Alford / The Houma Courier
BATON ROUGE — A Lafourche Parish senator wants the Legislature to modify the rules that allow for a certain number of video poker machines inside truck stops based on fuel sales.
Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, said the change is needed because construction of the Prospect Street Bridge in Terrebonne Parish slowed commerce for nearby businesses. “The truck stops in that area saw a drop in the volume of fuel they were selling, which is connected to the number of machines they can have,” Brown said. “That bridge was out for a long time while it was being replaced, and it all lasted much longer than anticipated.”
Senate Bill 141 would offer some relief to businesses in the Prospect Street Bridge area and set new standards to avoid similar problems in the future, Brown said.
Under current law, licensed truck stops can have 25 video poker machines temporarily placed on their premises during the business startup, with the final number of machines to be determined by future fuel sales.
The formula is based on the average monthly fuel sales from the first three months of operation, as decided by the gaming division of State Police.
After that, they are calculated annually.
For example, one of the top tiers calls for 100,000 gallons of fuel, of which 40,000 gallons must be diesel, to have up to 50 video poker machines.
Brown’s bill allows the temporary machines to stay in place for reasons of “force majeure,” or actions that are unavoidable, including road work and government construction projects that directly affect fuel sales.
His legislation likewise stipulates that a truck stop would have to be licensed for at least one year, meeting all fuel requirements during that year, to take advantage of the exemption.
In doing so, the licensed truck stop would still be able to operate the same number of machines it had during the year before its fuel sales interruption.
Brown said he was alerted to the issue by a group of video poker distributors who operate in Terrebonne Parish but could not immediately recall the specific businesses involved.
Senate Bill 141 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary B.
Rep. Bryan Adams, R-Gretna, has also introduced House Bill 146, which has the same intent as Brown’s bill.
The Adams bill has been assigned to the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee.
If passed by the Legislature, both bills would then have to be reviewed by the governor for final approval.